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Mars rover shows red planet in new light while inspiring youth back on Earth

Last Updated Feb 23, 2021 at 6:41 pm CST

WINNIPEG (CityNews) – New images from Mars have been circulating on Earth after NASA’s Perseverance Rover touched down late last week on the red planet.

The rover immediately started relaying video of Mars before it even had its wheels on the ground, sending back unseen high-quality images.

Altogether, the rover has 23 cameras to help it navigate and conduct experiments on the ground.

According to NASA, the lenses are capable of zooming, tilting, taking colour photos, and panorama shots.

“Every time we get a new mission to Mars, I just kind of drool over the pictures like, ‘Wow! This is a really cool place,’” said Ed Cloutis, a professor at the University of Winnipeg.

Cloutis helped design some of the on-board camera technology sent into space on the rover, including the Mass Cam Z, which is responsible for taking most of the pictures on Mars which have been seen so far.

The cameras were tested in a Mars-like environment that could mimic the planet’s atmosphere before launch. Cloutis says the colours are calibrated to be as accurate as possible and it’s been thrilling to see the younger generation getting excited about space.

“I just see the enthusiasm of the kids that are involved in this and I think that’s really important for us to inspire the next generation of students because they’re the ones that will be the astronauts going to Mars–it isn’t going to be me.”

That excitement in the younger generation is being noticed by teachers.

“If you’re just talking about Mars but not showing any images, than they are going to be interested but not as much if you were like, ‘Hey take a look at this,’” explained Emily Solilak, a teacher at Ecole Edward Schreyer school.

She added some of her students are incredibly enthusiastic about space.

Last year three boys in her class entered a contest to have an astronaut come to their school and they won. The event had to be postponed due to the pandemic and then made virtual, however the kids are thrilled for the chance to speak with a real astronaut and have been following the news about the Mars rover landing.

Solilak has a feeling in a few decades the kids from her classroom will be next on deck to explore outer space.

“I would not be surprised at all if in 20 years some former students have become an astronaut or joined CSA. Especially if they are talking about it now, right?!”