PIA26301: Perseverance Views Sunspots
 Target Name:  Sol (our sun)
 Is a satellite of: 
 Mission:  Mars 2020 Rover
 Spacecraft:  Perseverance
 Instrument:  Mastcam-Z 
 Product Size:  256 x 256 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  SSI 
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26301.tif (83.3 kB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26301.jpg (5.605 kB)

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NASA's Perseverance Mars rover captured this series of images of sunspots – regions where solar flares erupt on the Sun's surface – using its Mastcam-Z cameras between May 8 and 20, 2024 (the 1,144th and 1156th Martian days, or sols, of the mission). These flares sent charged particles toward Mars, where several NASA spacecraft were able to study them.

The Perseverance mission frequently uses Mastcam-Z to capture images of the Sun to help scientists assess how much dust is in the atmosphere, because airborne dust affects the brightness of the Sun. Inadvertently, the camera can also capture sunspots, which are relatively cool areas of the Sun with intense magnetic fields.

Arizona State University leads the operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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