by Hugh Hou
Mars HIGH-RESOLUTION 360° Virtual Tour – edit from the latest NASA’s Perseverance Rover Mastcam-Z’s First 360-Degree Panorama (February 24, 2021 – edited by Hugh Hou)
Editor’s note: This latest 360 photo is a faithful edit from the high-resolution source of Mastcam-Z, a zoomable pair of cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The source photo, unfortunately, is not in a 360 immersive format. I edited it into this 360 immersive format so that you can be on Mars if you have a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2 – or you can pan around on the Facebook mobile app. Besides fixing some stitching issues and stretching the sky to fit the standard immersive format, no creative modification has been added to this image – to keep it as close to the original as possible. You can get as close to reality on Mars from here.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover got its first high-definition look around its new home in Jezero Crater on Feb. 21, after rotating its mast, or “head,” 360 degrees, allowing the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument to capture its first panorama after touching down on the Red Planet on Feb 18.
Mastcam-Z is a dual-camera system equipped with a zoom function, allowing the cameras to zoom in, focus, and take high-definition video, as well as panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface. With this capability, the robotic astrobiologist can provide a detailed examination of both close and distant objects.
The cameras will help scientists assess the geologic history and atmospheric conditions of Jezero Crater and will assist in identifying rocks and sediment worthy of a closer look by the rover’s other instruments. The cameras also will help the mission team determine which rocks the rover should sample and collect for eventual return to Earth in the future.
Stitched together from 142 images, the newly released panorama reveals the crater rim and cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance. The camera system can reveal details as small as 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 5 millimeters) across near the rover and 6.5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) across in the distant slopes along the horizon.
The detailed composite image shows a Martian surface that appears similar to images captured by previous NASA rover missions.
Mastcam-Z’s design is an evolution of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover’s Mastcam instrument, which has two cameras of fixed focal length rather than zoomable cameras. The two cameras on Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z dual cameras are mounted on the rover’s mast at eye level for a person 6 feet, 6 inches (2 meters) tall. They sit 9.5 inches (24.1 centimeters) apart to provide stereo vision and can produce color images with a quality similar to that of a consumer digital HD camera.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory