Best Mars Photos Taken by NASA's Perseverance As Rover Ends Vacation

The Mars Perseverance Rover returned from its recent break to send more images back to Earth from the surface of Mars.

The Rover, which made history on September 3 by successfully drilling the first rock core taken from a Martian boulder, marked its return to active duty on October 19 with a video of it once again traversing the Martian terrain.

Solar conjunction is over and I’m ready to get rolling again. Nothing like the feel of Mars under your wheels.

Latest images: https://t.co/Ex1QDo3eC2
🎥(Sol 200 drive): https://t.co/JnELQV2rOy pic.twitter.com/D3vZSD99qT

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) October 19, 2021

This return was followed by the Rover sending back another stunning image of the surface of Mars on October 25.

A message posted on the Perseverance Rover's official Twitter account read: "I'm back to work, parked between these two beautiful outcrops. Been doing some imaging, weather studies, chemistry experiments, and getting a software update too."

Mars Rover
The surface of Mars as seen by the Perseverance Rover. After a short break the rover is once again sending back images and sounds from the Martian surface. JPL-Caltech/NASA

Perseverance's break was the result of Mars passing around the opposite side of the Sun from Earth, a period known as Mars solar conjunction.

This year the conjunction lasted from October 2 to October 16 and was followed by a week in which the operating team set about checking the rover's systems and installing important updates.

During this period, which occurs every two Earth years, hot ionized gas from our star's corona interferes with radio signals sent from Earth to Mars. That means that the Perseverance operators can't collect data from the rover.

So, no doubt they are relieved to receive some new images and sounds that join Perseverance's impressive catalog of visual data from the Red Planet collected since its descent to the planet's surface in February.

Perseverance Rover
A diagram of the Perseverance Rover showing the locations of its 23 cameras. JPL-Caltech./NASA

The Perseverance Rover is equipped with a total of 23 cameras. Of these, nine are engineering cameras, seven are science cameras, and seven were dedicated to taking entry landing and descent images.

Making History: September 2021

While the image of a hole in a boulder may not seem as if it marks an important step in the history of space exploration, this bore hole represents the moment humanity captured the first rock core sample from an alien world.

Perseverance Bore Hole
Taken on September 3, 2021 by the Rover's Right Mastcam-Z camera, this image shows a bore hole drilled by the rover that allowed it to collect a Martian rock core. JPL-Caltech/NASA

NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover captured the bore hole image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera, a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast.

Selfie Time: July 2021

The abundance of cameras aboard Perseverance and their varied locations means that not only does the rover have the surface of Mars well covered, it can also capture some fun selfies like this one, snapped on July 15.

The image was taken using the Rover's Left Navigation Camera (Navcam) located high on the rover's mast and designed to assist in driving the rover.

Perseverance Selfie
The Mars Perseverance Rover has 23 separate cameras which allow for selfies like this one to be grabbed. JPL-Caltech/NASA

The image shows the rover's drill arm preparing to bore a Martian rock to obtain a rock core sample.

The rover's Twitter feed described the process under way in the image a few days after it was taken.

This particular drill bit was installed before launch, to close out the drill and keep the inside protected. To keep my science clean and clear, I’m leaving it aside before I start to collect samples with new, pristine drill bits. pic.twitter.com/CusJKLYxhf

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) July 23, 2021

Perseverance Settles In: April 2021

NASA's Perseverance Rover takes an image of the Jezero crater, its new home away from home on April 13, with its Left Navigation Camera (Navcam).

The Jezero Crater
An image taken by the Perseverance rover of its new home, the Jezero crater. Data collected on the crater by the rover recently revealed it is actually an ancient lake bed. JPL-Caltech/NASA

Thanks to data collected from the rover, scientists now know that the Jezero crater is actually an ancient lake bed that experienced late-stage flooding events that carried rocks and debris into it from the highlands well outside the crater.

Perseverance Drops In On Mars: February 2021

The Perseverance Rover caught this image showing its descent to the surface of Mars on February 18, using its Descent Stage Down-Look Camera which looks down on the rover. The image was received by NASA from the Perseverance Rover four days after the landing.

Perseverance Descends
An image captured by the Perseverance Descent Stage Down-Look Camera shows it journey to the Martian surface. JPL-Caltech/NASA

This entry, descent, and landing portion of Perseverance's mission began when the spacecraft carrying it reached the top of the Martian atmosphere, traveling at around 13,000 miles per hour. Entering the atmosphere caused a drag on the craft which reduced its speed.

At under 1,000 miles per hour, the supersonic parachute was launched and the rover began its descent, locking its cameras on the surface of Mars for the first time.

The drop took around seven minutes to complete, during which time the rover had to autonomously guide itself to the surface of Mars.

The landing was also captured by the rover, with an image posted to its Twitter feed on February 24.

A moment of respect for the descent stage. Within two minutes of safely delivering me to the surface of Mars, I caught the smoke plume on one of my Hazcams from its intentional surface impact — an act that protected me and the scientific integrity of my landing site. pic.twitter.com/bG4dekrbvJ

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 24, 2021

As impressive as the Perseverance Rover's images are, snapping Mars is not its primary goal. Its main aim is to search the Red Planet for possible signs of ancient life, or possibly even lifeforms currently existing on the planet.