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NASA spacecraft spots Perseverance Mars rover looking like a shiny speck

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to snap Percy from on high.

Can you spot the rover in this NASA image of Mars? It's near the center and it stands out from the surrounding landscape.

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

The Perseverance rover is roughly the size of a small car, but its relatively dainty size didn't stop NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from capturing a view of it from orbit. The MRO HiRise camera team shared a fantastic image this week showing the rover looking like a bright rectangle on the rippled Martian landscape.

If you look closely, you can make out some of the rover's wheel tracks. "HiRise images like this one allow the rover team to choose the best route to get to their primary target and help put the rover's observations in context within Jezero Crater," said HiRise deputy principal investigator Shane Byrne in a statement this week.

The rover as seen in the image is 2,300 feet (700 meters) from its February landing site. Perseverance's meandering route has carried it across 1.62 miles (2.61 kilometers) of the Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed. NASA lets you track the rover's location with an interactive online map.

The new MRO view of Percy comes at a good time to help tide us over during Mars solar conjunction. Every two years, Earth and Mars end up on either side of the sun from each other and NASA takes a break from sending commands to its Martian missions.

Perseverance will be sitting tight through mid-October, though it will continue to monitor its surroundings during its vacation. 

The rover will soon be getting back to its geology studies and its goal of seeking out signs of ancient microbial life in a region with a fascinating history of water. Perseverance may look small in the MRO image, but the mission is huge.