Ingenuity helicopter takes pictures of particles area on Mars

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Throughout its one-year anniversary flight on April 19, the little chopper took pictures of the striped parachute used throughout Perseverance’s touchdown — sometimes called “7 minutes of terror” as a result of it occurs sooner than radio indicators can attain Earth from Mars — on February 18, 2021. It additionally noticed the cone-shaped backshell that helped defend the rover and Ingenuity on the journey from Earth to Mars and through its fiery, plunging descent to the Martian floor.

The engineers engaged on the Mars Pattern Return program, an formidable and multimission course of to return Martian samples collected by Perseverance to Earth by the 2030s, requested if Ingenuity might collect these photos throughout its twenty sixth flight.

Finding out the parts that allowed for a secure touchdown may also help them put together for future missions to the purple planet that may require touchdown and even launching from the Martian floor for the primary time.

“NASA prolonged Ingenuity flight operations to carry out pioneering flights resembling this,” mentioned Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s group lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in an announcement.

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“Each time we’re airborne, Ingenuity covers new floor and presents a perspective no earlier planetary mission might obtain. Mars Pattern Return’s reconnaissance request is an ideal instance of the utility of aerial platforms on Mars.”

Throughout entry, descent and touchdown, the spacecraft faces scorching temperatures and gravitational forces because it plunges into the Martian environment at nearly 12,500 miles per hour (20,000 kilometers per hour).

Beforehand, we have solely seen photos of the discarded touchdown gear from a rover’s perspective, like a picture taken by Perseverance exhibiting the parachute and backshell from a distance. Aerial photos, captured for the primary time by Ingenuity from 26 toes (8 meters) within the air, present extra element.

“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars touchdown in historical past, with cameras exhibiting every little thing from parachute inflation to landing,” mentioned Ian Clark, former Perseverance programs engineer and present Mars Pattern Return ascent section lead at JPL, in an announcement.

“However Ingenuity’s photos provide a special vantage level. In the event that they both reinforce that our programs labored as we predict they labored or present even one dataset of engineering data we are able to use for Mars Pattern Return planning, it is going to be wonderful. And if not, the images are nonetheless phenomenal and provoking.”

The backshell and its debris field can be seen from Ingenuity's position above the landing site.

The backshell will be seen amongst a particles area it created after hitting the Martian floor whereas shifting at about 78 miles per hour (126 kilometers per hour). However the backshell’s protecting coating seems to be intact, as are the 80 suspension strains connecting it to the parachute.

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The orange and white parachute will be seen, lined in mud, however the cover would not present any harm. It was the largest parachute used on Mars so far, at 70.5 toes (21.5 meters) extensive. The group will proceed to research the photographs to find out if the parachute skilled any modifications over the following a number of weeks.

Throughout Ingenuity’s twenty sixth aerial tour, the chopper flew a complete of 1,181 toes (360 meters). To this point, it has logged 49 minutes of whole flight time and traveled 3.9 miles (6.3 kilometers) over the previous yr.

“To get the pictures we wanted, Ingenuity did numerous maneuvering, however we had been assured as a result of there was difficult maneuvering on flights 10, 12, and 13,” mentioned Håvard Grip, chief pilot of Ingenuity at JPL, in an announcement. “Our touchdown spot set us up properly to picture an space of curiosity for the Perseverance science group on Flight 27, close to ‘Séítah’ ridge.”

Perseverance captured this photo of the rover's parachute in the distance on April 6.

The helicopter and rover have arrived at an historical river delta the place water as soon as flowed into Jezero Crater hundreds of thousands of years in the past.

The imposing delta rises greater than 130 toes (40 meters) above the crater ground and is riddled with boulders, pockets of sand and jagged cliffs — and it could possibly be the very best place to seek for indicators of historical life if it ever existed on Mars.

Ingenuity has the essential job of surveying two dry river channels to see which one Perseverance ought to use to climb to the highest of the delta. It might probably additionally share photos of options that would turn into potential science targets for the rover.

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