Postcards from Mars!
On a typical sol (a Martian day), the two Mastcam-Z cameras on the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover take several dozen to several hundreds of images of Mars, and occasionally even a video. These observations include potential sampling targets, rock features of interest for geology or compositional science, atmospheric observations, and sweeping landscape mosaics to determine where the rover might head next on its journey.
While Mastcam-Z is first and foremost an imaging science instrument onboard the rover, it also, of course, is taking gorgeous, postcard-worthy photos in the process.
Like any good traveler, the Perseverance rover is taking photos at every step of its journey and sending them back to Earth to the Mars 2020 Science and Operations Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other universities and research centers around the world. The Mastcam-Z Downlink Operations team at ASU has the job of assessing the Mastcam-Z images as they come down from the rover and creating gorgeous science-calibrated products and mosaics of the surrounding Martian landscapes, both for the rover team as well as for the general public.
Our team has a special page on our public web site, for example, that showcases many of our own favorite Mastcam-Z images and mosaics. Now, the Mastcam-Z team wants to share a subset of our favorite postcard-worthy images with everyone – in the form of actual postcards! – so that everyone can follow Perseverance and Mastcam-Z along its journey through Jezero crater!
Arguably the hardest part of this process was determining which images would be chosen to represent the key moments of Perseverance’s journey, out of tens of thousands. The designs ultimately chosen below introduce Mastcam-Z and the Ingenuity helicopter, and cover some of the most important discoveries and accomplishments of the Perseverance rover’s mission to date. Once the designs were selected, descriptions were written for the back of each card to provide some context. With the help of the team, each description was fact-checked and given the Mastcam-Z seal of approval.
Below are the six postcard designs we have created so far, for anyone to download and/or print, so you can have your very own Perseverance Postcards from Mars! Each of these designs are sized to fit on a standard 4×6-inch postcard. If you would like to have the official Mastcam-Z team-printed postcards, we encourage you to come to one of the many outreach events in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, where we often give printed copies out for free!