A View of the Red Planet (in Blue)


Ch'al-Type Rocks at Santa Cruz

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover snapped this view of a hill in Mars’ Jezero Crater called “Santa Cruz” on April 29, 2021, the 68th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. About 20 inches (50 centimeters) across on average, the boulders in the foreground are among the type of rocks the rover team has named “Ch’al” (the Navajo term for “frog” and pronounced “chesh”).

Composed of multiple images, this enhanced-color mosaic was created using the left- and right-eye views of Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z camera system, merging the scene into a single, wider view. Santa Cruz hill is a possible eroded remnant of Jezero Crater’s western delta. The hill is about 164 feet (50 meters) tall and was roughly 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) east of the rover when the photo was taken, viewed from “Van Zyl Overlook.”

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.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSSLast Updated: Mar 3, 2022Editor: Yvette Smith

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Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 6, 2022 3:28 am

It never ceases to astonish me that we can look at detailed images of a Martian landscape and all the Voyager images of the outer world’s (and how about Pluto!) as if we had just taken snaps of next door’s garden. Science is wonderful.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 6, 2022 10:53 am

Engineering is wonderful.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
March 6, 2022 1:12 pm

I wonder what made the trail that ascends just to the right of the summit. In Colorado it would most likely be mountain goats or big horn sheep.

Reply to  Scissor
March 6, 2022 6:22 pm

Martian tourists.

Reply to  mcswell
March 6, 2022 7:01 pm

On second thought, Martian teen agers. Of course, given that Mars’ year is 687 Earth days, a Martian who had just passed his 16th birthday would be about 30 Earth years old.

Reply to  Scissor
March 7, 2022 5:22 pm

Dust devil, maybe?

Reply to  Scissor
March 9, 2022 9:08 am

It appears as though it merely is another edge of mineral strata (or volcanic intrusion) exposed by erosion. Its toughness may be the reason for the hillock itself. The notch at the top of the peak indicates a discontinuity.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
March 7, 2022 12:00 pm

Agreed , important ! Perseverance capabilities are 5% “Science” 95% Engineering . Most “scientists ” I know wouldn’t have a clue how to put a hugely delicate but heavy (just over 1 Tonne ) and large semi autonomous robot onto a pretargeted spot on the surface of Mars .

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 6, 2022 7:49 pm

My younger son had a “current events poster display” assignment due at his middle school back in the early 2000s. The night before, naturally, he hadn’t even started to think about it. When I was in high school in the early 1970s and had such an assignment, I (being a space enthusiast) would collect whatever pictures I could from the likes of Life magazine, National Geographic, Popular Science, etc. It was labor intensive, and the pictures were always way out of date.

As a misguided parent, I rescued my son (as my Mom had done for me on a few occasions). But I was able to (easily) go online and download pictures from the surface of Mars taken that day, along with a full NASA press release description of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that had taken those pictures. I was so jazzed with the amazing new capability that technology had built that I didn’t really consider much else about it. My son grumbled about having to glue the various printouts onto a piece of poster board, but I think it was due to his feeling ashamed of not coming up with anything himself.

In retrospect, I probably should have let him crash and burn just once. But it didn’t do any lasting damage, because he’s now a highly paid software engineer with a lovely wife and an infant daughter. And I didn’t help with any of that.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 7, 2022 3:19 am

Sounds like a good dad to me. Let them learn gentle lessons if you can, but make them strong enough for the hard ones that life will give them.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 7, 2022 9:17 am

Maybe we can get the to fix the cameras for wanted crimes…


Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 6, 2022 3:29 am

Apostrophe fail!

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 6, 2022 3:44 am

Nowadays there is an edit button!

Reply to  Jit
March 6, 2022 11:29 am

sometimes there is not

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
March 6, 2022 7:04 pm

If you’re referring to the “apostrophe” in ch’al, it means that the preceding consonant is glottalized. I won’t attempt to explain what “glottalized” means here, because it’s hard to imagine what it sounds like if you haven’t heard the real thing, but you can probably get some idea by looking it up in the wikipedia or in some linguistic site.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers
March 6, 2022 4:39 am

Space may be the final frontier…
But it’s made in a Hollywood basement..

March 6, 2022 4:51 am

But why the blues?

Reply to  Hans Erren
March 6, 2022 4:58 am

It’s cooler.

Reply to  Hans Erren
March 6, 2022 7:37 am

But why the blues?

See Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: Episode 5, “Blues for a Red Planet”


Ron Long
Reply to  RicDre
March 6, 2022 9:29 am

Ouch! The author of the Sagan piece, Brit, aka Lee Mandelo, is described as “…whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially where the two coincide.”. I can’t believe you tricked me into reading that.

Joseph Zorzin
March 6, 2022 4:55 am

anyone who likes such photos of Mars- you GOTTA check out the following YouTube channel- https://www.youtube.com/c/framesbyrado/videos

where the photos are digitally connected in series- and the channel owner adds commentary and pans the photos – really making you feel you’re standing on the planet

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 6, 2022 6:13 am

Here’s the NASA Utube version of the enhanced color mosaic:

Last edited 1 year ago by yirgach
Tom in Florida
Reply to  yirgach
March 6, 2022 7:03 am

What shouldn’t go unnoticed is the barren, lifelessness of Mars. Even in the desert SW of the U.S. you see an occasional bush or shrub. But here, nothing…. absolutely nothing.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 6, 2022 7:28 am

Even if f life did exist on Mars in the past, it’s been a dead planet for 2-3 billion years.

If life did evolve, it probably never got past the equivalent of stromatolites.

Ron Long
Reply to  David Middleton
March 6, 2022 9:33 am

Another stromatolite aficianado, David! I developed a size classification of stromatolite mounds based on bra sizes, from Little Orphan Annie to Queen Latifah. This gives a clue to non-geologists what a stromatolite looks like when preserved in the stratigraphic record.

Reply to  Ron Long
March 6, 2022 10:36 am

Damn, you’ve ruined stromatolites for me by comparing them to an overweight person’s breasts.
I used to admire the creatures that were the dominant lifeform for billions of years and made it possible for oxygen breathing organisms like me to develop. Now, not so much.
JK 😉

Last edited 1 year ago by Brad-DXT
Ron Long
Reply to  Brad-DXT
March 6, 2022 12:57 pm

Brad-DXT, just focus on the Little Orphan Annie end of the spectrum and you’ll be alright.

Graeme McMillan
Reply to  Ron Long
March 8, 2022 7:57 am

Orphan Annie or greta thunberg?

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
March 6, 2022 5:39 am

A large field of broken rocks. Interesting.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
March 6, 2022 7:03 am

Go East.

Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
March 6, 2022 8:49 am

If you even have a passing interest in geology. That is a beautiful, fascinating picture.

Reply to  Alan
March 6, 2022 1:42 pm

It just needs some good roadcuts to help map it.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
March 6, 2022 10:22 am

“A key objective for Perseverance’s mission is astrobiology”

A photo of a field of rocks; that’s what you get from billion dollar pseudoscience.

Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
March 6, 2022 6:23 pm

The ignorance is strong with this one.

Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
Reply to  Paul Hurley (aka PaulH)
March 6, 2022 1:57 pm

Hold fire, guys! I meant no disrespect with my brief comment. What “broke” the rocks? Why do they seem relatively evenly distributed over a large area? Are there rocks on the sides of the distant hills? Is there a valley past the distant line of rocks, or does the field end? Are these rocks igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic?

And, yes, this is an interesting field of broken rocks.

March 6, 2022 5:41 am

A few years away but if SpaceX can get their ultra heavy lift rocket to commercial operation, I would hope we can send some bigger, more sophisticated hardware to Mars. You only have optimal launch conditions every few years as our planet and Mars rotate around the Sun.

But then again, due to climate change all of Florida and the south Texas beaches will be under water, so we need to start building new launch facilities inland.

James B.
Reply to  rbabcock
March 6, 2022 6:50 am

Sea water level has been steadily rising about 1 foot per century since the end of the last ice age. With the temperature trends since the Minoan Warm Period, it’s more likely that sea level has peaked.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  rbabcock
March 6, 2022 8:51 am

4-6Kya the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico was 50 miles north of today.

March 6, 2022 5:48 am

It always amazes me how the NASA imaging teams (“imagining teams”) can so misinterpret even the most basic and obvious of scenes.

Those are not rocks in the foreground at all. They are big hardened steel chunks weighing ~1-2 tons each. Here is the story:
The big long and wide depression in the main part of the photo is the impact crater of an Orion class battle cruiser. As you can see, The Orion class used a massive thick hull of steel armor as part of it’s battle protection. In this case, the ship absorbed massive quantities of Proton Cannon fire. This proton exposure caused massive embrittlement of the steel hull to the point that it was as brittle as glass. The ship finally met it’s demise and impacted the surface. The impact caused the hull to shatter into the thousands of pieces you see before you. Note how the hull fragments are distributed both within and surrounding the impact depression.

Reply to  TonyL
March 6, 2022 7:03 am

All that happened during the
which geologists still think was stones not a war.
Ancient history.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  TonyL
March 6, 2022 7:06 am

Why are they still using steel?

Reply to  Tom in Florida
March 6, 2022 8:09 am

Cheap, abundant, easily worked, especially at high thicknesses. Fabulous structural strength. Remember that not all weapons are of the high-tech directed energy type.
There was a case where one space force used all directed energy weapons and energy shields and so forth. They were said to be so advanced as to be Transformational. The lead of a whole new era.

Their enemy went full bore primitive and barbaric on them. They started flinging heavy mass objects at very high velocity at these Transformational ships. Sometimes the heavy masses at high velocity would sail straight through leaving paths open to the vacuum of space. Sometimes they would go BOOM when they hit. Sometimes they would do a bit of both, penetrating to the inside of the target, then going BOOM.
Thus ended the age of Transformationalism.

If you are wondering why all this is starting to sound familiar, remember the addage “all things old, become new again.”

Reply to  TonyL
March 6, 2022 9:04 am

Here is what really happened, old lamps for new :

Ron Long
Reply to  TonyL
March 6, 2022 9:35 am

TonyL, get back on your meds before it’s too late.

Reply to  TonyL
March 6, 2022 9:37 am

During the Battle Off Samar during WWII, the Japanese used armor piercing shells against lightly armored escort carriers thinking they were fleet carriers.

They passed right through without much damage, a 16 inch hole with no detonation. The Japanese finally realizes their mistake and changed to high explosive shells, and sank one of the carriers, the Gambier Bay. The only US carrier sunk by navel gunfire during the war.

So thin skin, thick skin, energy weapons, mass weapons.

As everything changes, it always stays the same.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  TonyL
March 6, 2022 10:31 am


Hmmm . . . I believe you have it slightly wrong.

My sources tell me Orion class interstellar battle cruisers only use leftover General Products No. 2 Hulls which, IIRC, can only be destroyed by intense beams of antimatter. Proton cannons wouldn’t even scratch them. I think perhaps you are referring to the wrecked pieces being from a much less-capable Lyra class light frigate.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 11:53 am

Perhaps. If so, my mistake.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 12:42 pm

That’s STILL classified since the Late Bombardment.
Bet you got that from a Russian hack.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  bonbon
March 6, 2022 1:56 pm

Perhaps. If so, my mistake.

March 6, 2022 7:03 am

Looks more like Greenland…

March 6, 2022 7:11 am

The LR experiments conducted by Viking 1 & 2 argue there is life on mars.

Reply to  ferdberple
March 6, 2022 7:36 am

That is from 2016 – great to see followup…

March 6, 2022 7:14 am

Desolate, barren, at 99.4% of full vacuum. Envision the ISS with gravity for human “colonization”.

Reply to  ferdberple
March 6, 2022 7:35 am

Exactly. Initially reported then buried under some filing cabinet.
Explains why so many rovers have since been sent there.

7 August 1996: NASA announced fossilized evidence of ancient life in meteorite ALH 84001 from Mars.

Controversial I know, but COVID19 origins :
Cometary Origin of COVID-19

In other words Earth and Mars get comet dust all the time.

Last edited 1 year ago by bonbon
March 6, 2022 7:43 am

‘named “Ch’al” (the Navajo term for “frog” and pronounced “chesh” ‘

Why such differences between spelling and pronunciation? Even if originally written down by the Spanish, there wouldn’t be such a difference.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  PCman999
March 6, 2022 7:56 am

Try witch and which, reed and read, red and read, tea and tee, pea and pee, hair and hare, bear and bare …..

Smart Rock
Reply to  PCman999
March 6, 2022 9:55 am

It’s designed to show you up as an ignorant, culturally insensitive outsider/settler/colonist when you mispronounce it. (/s or maybe not?)

Last edited 1 year ago by Smart Rock
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  PCman999
March 6, 2022 10:45 am

Well, almost everyone knows that the correct phonetic spelling of the English word “fish” is:


as “ph” is pronounced in the word “phone”, and

as “o” is pronounced in the word “women”, and

as “ti” is pronounced in the word “motion”.

Next question.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 6:43 pm

For you and Tom: one reason English spelling is so weird is because it’s been written for like a thousand years, and the pronunciation of nearly everything has changed since then (as would be true of most any language spoken for that long). The sounds represented by ‘w’ and ‘wh’ actually started out as different sounds, and as of fifty years ago, some grade school teachers actually tried to force students to pronounce ‘which’ with a soft of whispered ‘w’.

Also, English spelling started out chaotic–compare any Chaucerian era writers, and see how differently they spell things. In fact, the same writer may not even spell a single word consistently.

Whereas Navajo has been written for less than a century, and its pronunciation hasn’t changed significantly in that time; plus the alphabet was designed by linguists working with native speakers, so it was codified , not random.

For the real reasons the alleged pronunciation of ch’al is so far removed from what you’d expect, see my post above.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 10:53 pm

Or ghoti. “gh” from tough or rough. Or ghoci with “ci” from gracious. Then have some fun with the “er” sound from the olo in colonel. Or the “on” sound from envelope (one of two common pronunciations). You get “enolo” for honor.

Last edited 1 year ago by stinkerp
Reply to  PCman999
March 6, 2022 6:35 pm

There are three problems with the spelling + transliteration.

First, the spelling is wrong, because the alphabet NASA is writing with doesn’t have one of the letters that the Navajo alphabet has, namely ł (in case that doesn’t show up here, it’s our letter ‘l’ with a sort of diagonal slash through it. Second, the pronunciation of that slashed-l is not a sound we have in English. Technically, it’s a voiceless lateral, sort of like a whispered ‘l’–but the closest sound we have in English is the one usually written ‘sh’.

And third, the ch’ (with the trailing apostrophe) is another sound we don’t have in English, a glottalized (aka ejective) version of our ch.

That’s what you get for trying to show the pronunciation of a foreign language using English letters.

Oh, and I guess there’s a fourth problem: the Navajo letter “a” is pronounced like the English “a” in “father”, not like the English “e” in “bed” or in “beed”.

Matt Kiro
Reply to  PCman999
March 7, 2022 8:23 am

Why use Navajo terms at all? Just call them frog stones or rocks.

Reply to  PCman999
March 7, 2022 8:27 am

The story seems to put a lot of emphasis on NASA using the Navajo word for “frog” to describe the boulders. Why? Is there no Navajo word for “boulder”, “rock”, “Dwayne Johnson” ?

Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 10:09 am

I may be mistaken, but in the above article’s top photo those sure appear to be 2020 Jeep Wrangler tire tracks going up the near side of Santa Cruz hill and terminating just to the right of the hill’s peak.

Admittedly, might be those made by a 2019 Range Rover instead.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 11:14 am

Gordon, you display confirmation bias…it was clearly a 2020 4WD F-150.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  DMacKenzie
March 6, 2022 1:58 pm

OK . . . my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be.

Peta of Newark
March 6, 2022 11:34 am

If I took my little camera down close to the ground in the (old) potato field at bottom of my garden…. I could get a shot just like that.

Those poor Martians eh – what a way to go: Roundup Poisoning, occasioned by a diet revolving around French Fries. In turn, those taties having been cooked in corn oil – coming from plants that had been liberally doused in what was originally supposed to be an antibiotic ##

And I bet they thought ‘everything has never been better’ just before it happened as well.
As long as we all know that, it could never happen again. could it.

## Antibiotic
Trans: = Contra Life

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
March 6, 2022 11:42 am

What geological process makes rocks of that shape?

Reply to  AndyHce
March 6, 2022 12:58 pm

The only good question and it’s the bottom of the threads…

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  AndyHce
March 6, 2022 2:06 pm

Hmmm . . . irregularly shaped rocks about 20 inches across with random edge angles as seen from a single point of view . . . by golly, you may be onto something . . . but then, again . . .

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
March 6, 2022 8:16 pm

Sharp edges, flat planes, smooth curves, all in an environment that is supposed to endure huge, long lived, sand storms

Last edited 1 year ago by AndyHce
Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  AndyHce
March 7, 2022 9:46 am

“flat planes, smooth curves”

Hmmm . . . in the photo at the top of the above article, I see exposed rock surfaces (on those rocks nearest the camera) that have a somewhat-rounded, highly textured, ripple-like appearance, as if they had been sandblasted.

David S
March 6, 2022 1:01 pm

If they really do find martian microbes perhaps it is not a good idea to bring them back.

Reply to  David S
March 6, 2022 1:31 pm

Nah – they’d be taken straight to the Wuhan laboratory.
Safe as houses.

March 6, 2022 1:46 pm

Where is the coring rig to do real work?

March 7, 2022 8:14 am

What kinda concerns me is the fact they are searching for microbialorganisms.

What do they intend to do with these things once they get them to Earth?

What if they find out they are alive and can be manipulated in the lab?

What hope will we have if some microorganism is lethal to humans and we find out after it has been accidentally released into our world?

Sorry after this fiasco with Corona and the mysterious release of it somewhere in the far East and no one is admitting they released it on purpose – I don’t trust these scientists and I probably will never trust them again…

David Sivyer
March 7, 2022 11:05 am

Is that a track on yonder hill?

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