We all know that Mars is a rocky and dusty planet. But what happens when you get up close to its surface? The results are mighty impressive.
Mars is filled with countless rocks throughout its surface, and as seen in the NASA photo above, each one has a unique story to tell about the planet’s history. Among all of the planets in our Solar System, Mars has become a primary focus. While it’s always been an interest to scientists and astronomers alike, research missions have doubled down in recent years.
Just take a look at what’s been happening in 2021 alone. China landed its first rover on the planet, NASA’s Perseverance rover has collected the first Martian rock samples that’ll be returned to Earth, and the InSight probe created the first interior map of the planet. These robotics are providing incredible data and information about Mars, paving the way for the first humans to visit at some point in the 2030s.
When it’s not collecting rock samples or traversing Mars’ harsh surface, Perseverance records its entire journey with thousands upon thousands of photos. Perseverance captures photos with its multiple cameras, shares them with NASA, and then all of the files are uploaded for everyone to see — such as the one seen above and below. This picture was acquired on September 30, 2021, using Perseverance’s Right Navigation Camera. It’s one of many photos the rover has taken of Martian rocks, though it happens to be one of the most detailed yet.
What These Rocks Tell Us About Mars’ Surface
Right off the bat, the photo has a lot to like. It showcases numerous rocks of varying sizes, small pebbles littering the Martian surface, and fine details in the dust covering the planet. It’s well-known that the entirety of Mars looks like this to some degree, but the small details in the rocks, sand, and dust are truly fascinating when you take a close look at things.
For this particular image, the main takeaway is the rich history engraved into the rocks. It doesn’t take long to realize these rocks have seen better days. The surface of every single one has an uneven texture and heaps of small craters/holes. This is more than likely due to millions of years of intense wind and sandstorms that are a regular occurrence on Mars. This weather poses a great challenge to human’s eventual goal of colonizing Mars, but at the very least, it also creates some really beautiful specimens like this.
This photo is also a good reminder of just how varied Martian rocks can be. These ones all appear to be quite small and have pretty regular shapes. Other pictures, however, have shown dramatically different types of rocks — including larger boulders and ones that look like small worms. It’ll be a while before humans can see these fascinating rocks in person, so until then, we’ll keep relying on Perseverance and other rovers to continue sharing the beauty for us.
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