Check Out This View of the Van Zyl Overlook on Mars

You can feel what it would be like to stand on Mars with this 360-degree panorama of the Martian surface, captured by the NASA Perseverance rover. The interactive video includes a 2.4-billion-pixel image, made up of 992 separate images that have been combined into one, as well as audio of the sound of the Martian wind captured by the rover.

The images that make up the panorama were taken between April 15 and April 26, in an area called the Van Zyl Overlook, where the rover was hanging out during the Ingenuity helicopter’s earliest flights.

You can see the rover itself in the panorama, though this image was taken earlier, on March 20. The audio was recorded on February 22 and processed to remove the sounds of the rover in the background, leaving just the sounds of Mars.

Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z imaging system captured this 360-degree panorama at “Van Zyl Overlook,” where the rover parked during Ingenuity helicopter’s first flights. The 2.4-billion-pixel panorama consists of 992 images stitched together.
The Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z imaging system captured this 360-degree panorama at Van Zyl Overlook, where the rover parked during the Ingenuity helicopter’s first flights. The 2.4-billion-pixel panorama consists of 992 images combined into one. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

In addition to snapping photos and recording audio, Perseverance has been busy with its science operations, beginning its search for evidence of what was once bacterial life on the red planet. The rover recently left its landing site, named after pioneering science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, and headed for a scenic overlook to survey geological features of the Jezero Crater.

“We are putting the rover’s commissioning phase as well as the landing site in our rearview mirror and hitting the road,” said Jennifer Trosper, Perseverance project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Over the next several months, Perseverance will be exploring a 1.5-square-mile [4-square-kilometer] patch of crater floor. It is from this location that the first samples from another planet will be collected for return to Earth by a future mission.”

This image looking west toward the Séítah geologic unit on Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight, on May 22, 2021.
This image, captured looking west toward the Séítah geologic unit on Mars, was taken from a height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter during its sixth flight, on May 22, 2021. NASA/JPL-Caltech

The area where the rover is heading, called the Séítah geologic unit, already has been imaged from the air by the Ingenuity helicopter during its sixth flight. By exploring this region, the researchers hope to learn about the earliest history of the Jezero Crater.

“Starting with the Crater Floor Fractured Rough and Séítah geologic units allows us to start our exploration of Jezero at the very beginning,” said JPL’s Kevin Hand, an astrobiologist and co-lead, along with Vivian Sun, of this science campaign. “This area was under at least 100 meters [328 feet] of water 3.8 billion years ago. We don’t know what stories the rocks and layered outcrops will tell us, but we’re excited to get started.”

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