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NASA shares rover's 'strangely serene' snapshot of dusty Mars

Mars looks like a nice place to practice meditation.

This Perseverance Mars rover image comes from Dec. 5.

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

A lot of adjectives apply to Mars. Dusty. Distant. Alien. Daunting. Rocky. In the eyes of NASA's Perseverance rover, Mars is also "strangely serene."

On Friday, NASA shared a view taken on Dec. 5 from one of the rover's mast-mounted cameras. It shows scenic sandy dunes stretching out with rock formations rising in the background and boulders scattered across the ground. If you didn't know it was taken on Mars, you might think it was a desert somewhere on Earth.

"Good morning from Mars -- where as usual it's dusty, cold, and strangely serene," the Perseverance team tweeted. With the rover sending back thousands of images from the red planet, it's always worth a close look at the photos NASA chooses to highlight. 

Perseverance is exploring the Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed that's an intriguing place to look for signs of ancient microbial life. If all goes to plan, NASA hopes to send a future mission to pick up samples the rover is collecting there and bring them back to Earth.

From the human perspective, Mars is pretty inhospitable. It's frigid. We can't survive on it without protection. We send robotic explorers, and those vehicles also succumb to the harsh conditions. (I remember you fondly, Opportunity rover.) Yet, both public and private space organizations are trying to figure out how to get humans there for a visit, or even to live there long-term.

While humanity looks ahead to the many challenges of Mars, we can take time to appreciate the rugged landscapes that stand as visions of stark beauty. Those rocks and dunes might be an astronaut's view out of a spacecraft window one day.