The Perseverance Mars rover is undergoing a major software update this week as engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory replace programming that controlled the spacecraft’s cruise to the red planet and its dramatic entry, descent and landing 18 February. The new software, being installed in carefully monitored steps, will ready the rover for science operations after instrument activation and checkout is complete. Before the software update began, the rover’s dual camera Mastcam-Z instrument snapped 142 images of the rover’s landing site that were stitched together to make a zoomable 360-degree panorama. The jagged rim of Jezero Crater is visible on the horizon along with the eroded cliffs of an ancient delta formed when a now-vanished river flowed into the crater and filled the basin with a 28-mile-wide lake. Perseverance will study those lakebed and delta deposits, looking for signs of past microbial life.
Zoomable Perseverance panorama. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS