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.
Nitrogen, in the form of nitric oxide (one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom), has been detected for the first time on the surface of Mars by a team of researchers using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover, adding to the growing speculation that life could have once flourished on ancient Mars.