NASA's Perseverance Rover may have only been exploring Mars for a few days now, but those of us back on Earth have already been exposed to some fascinating images of the planet.
This includes an image taken from the 'jetpack' of the rover right before Perseverance landed on the surface of Mars.
While the early images released by Perseverance were low-res and in black & white, the more recent pictures show the Red Planet in full color and a glorious amount of clarity.
NASA has an official Mars Perseverance Rover image gallery, which actually has 148 raw images for anyone to view and share. In addition, the official NASA Perseverance Mars Rover Twitter account has posted some exclusive photos of its descent to the surface.
The footage, played at a news conference, showed the spacecraft blasting off red dirt as it landed on the surface of Mars on Feb. 18, performing a landing sequence involving a small amount of rocking back and forth and engine throttling.
Astrobiology research, including the quest for evidence of ancient microbial life, is the primary objective of Perseverance's mission on Mars. The rover will classify the geology and historical climate of the planet and will be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith, opening doors for human exploration of the Red Planet.
The rover flew through space for almost seven months, reaching 472 million km (293 million miles) before landing safely at 19,000 km/h on Mars (12,000 mph).
Al Chen, Entry, Descent, and Landing Systems and Advanced Technologies systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said "we could spend all day looking" at the images.
The Perseverance Rover is NASA's fifth Mars science rover and is the most sophisticated astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another planet. Since 1960, nine countries have carried out 49 missions to Mars.
The rover and the accompanying software cost $2.7 billion and took two years to construct.