The Perseverance Mars rover landed in Jezero Crater just beyond a broad delta formation fanning out from an ancient river channel that once fed a 45-kilometre-wide (28-mile-wide) lake. The $2.4 billion rover will look for signs of past microbial life that might be preserved in those deposits, placing sample tubes on the surface for eventual retrieval and return to Earth. This image, taken by a hazard-avoidance camera, or “hazcam,” on the front of the rover, is the first colour photo from the surface showing the terrain directly ahead in sharp detail. Additional, higher-resolution photos and movies are planned to help scientists map out a route that will carry the rover across the lakebed and eventually to the delta and beyond to maximise the chances of finding biosignatures.
Dazzling Venus and much fainter Mars have a close encounter with a young Moon in the constellation of Pisces at UK dusk on Tuesday 31 January. The trio form an equilateral triangle small enough to be encompassed by the field of view of a 7x binocular low in the west-southwest for a couple of hours from 7pm GMT.
Observers in the UK and Western Europe should find an observing location offering an unobscured eastern horizon an hour before sunrise on Sunday, 10 September to see innermost planet Mercury just 0.6 degrees from Regulus, the brightest star in Leo. Conspicuous planet Venus is your convenient celestial guide to finding Regulus, Mercury and Mars.