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.
In the small hours of Friday, 16 October, innermost planet Mercury reaches its greatest westerly elongation from the Sun. For those of you in the UK with a flat, unobscured eastern horizon and willing to get up an hour before sunrise, the next few days provide your best opportunity to see Mercury from the Northern Hemisphere during 2015.
Set your alarm for 6am GMT if you wish to see three naked-eye planets in the UK dawn sky this week. Find a location that offers an unobstructed view of the horizon from southeast to south and let the waning Moon be your guide to locating Jupiter, Mars and Saturn on successive mornings from 7 to 11 February.