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Stunning Mars Images Rival Moon Landing's

By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2021 5:30 PM CST

(Newser) – Photos sent back from Mars by NASA's Perseverance rover already are joining the album of iconic pictures of space exploration, putting them alongside such indelible images as Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon in 1969. "We can only hope, in our efforts to engineer spacecraft and explore our solar system, that we might be able [to] contribute yet another iconic image to this collection," said Adam Steltzner, the rover's chief engineer, per CNN, "and I'm happy to say that I'm hopeful that today we can with this." The first images arrived on Earth on Thursday evening, and color ones were unveiled at a news conference Friday. Pauline Hwang, a member of the Perseverence team, said her colleagues "went wild" when they first saw the images, per the Guardian. "Just the clarity, and just the reality of it, it was just unbelievable," she said.

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The first photo was from a perspective not possible on earlier missions, showing the rover just about to land. In the image, the engines are kicking up small plumes of dust from 6½ feet above the Mars surface. "It is absolutely exhilarating," Steltzner said. Other photos show the planet's red surface. High-definition video taken by a series of cameras could be released as soon as Monday, per Space.com, and it might include sound. The images will be put to work by the science team, "so that we can actually begin to really start the mission," one member said. A series of assessments over a few days takes place first, and officials said all is well so far. "I'm happy to say that the rover is doing great and is healthy on the surface of Mars," the mission manager said. (Read more Mars rover stories.)

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