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.
On 18 June at the end of civil twilight in the UK, planets Mars and Mercury lie slightly less than one-quarter of a degree apart in the constellation of Gemini. Observing this conjunction will be a challenge from the UK as the pair will be just 5 degrees high in the west-northwest at civil dusk in bright twilight, which is about 50 minutes after sunset for London.