NASAis the latest March the rover used a camera at the end of its robotic arm to capture this footage with a nearby Ingenuity helicopter.
NASA’s rover Perseverance Mars took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, which is seen here at about 4 meters (4 meters) in this image from April 6, 2021, the 46th Mars Day, or salt, mission. Perseverance captured the image using a camera called WATSON (a wide-angle topographic sensor for operations and engineering), part of the SHERLOC instrument (Scanning Habitats with Raman and Luminescence for Organic and Chemical Products), located at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.
Perseverance’s selfie with ingenuity is made up of 62 individual images taken while the rover was looking at a helicopter and then again while looking at WATSON’s camera. Videos explaining how NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers take their selfies can be found here.
Once the team is ready to attempt the first flight, Perseverance will receive and submit to ingenuity the last flight instructions from JPL mission controllers. Several factors will determine the exact flight time, including modeling of local wind patterns based on measurements performed on the MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) instrument on board the Perseverance. Ingenuity will run its rotors at 2,537 rpm and, if all the final self-controls look good, get up. After climbing at a speed of about 3 meters per second (1 meter per second), the helicopter will hover at 3 meters above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Then the ingenuity will descend and touch the surface of Mars.
Hours after the first flight took place, Perseverance will drop the first set of Ingenuity engineering data and, perhaps, pictures and videos from the rover’s navigation cameras and the Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomed cameras. Based on data linked that first night after the flight, the ingenuity team expects to be able to determine if his first attempt to fly to Mars was successful. The results of the flight tests will be discussed by the Ingenuity team at a press conference on the same day.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has built and manages the agency’s perseverance and ingenuity operations. Caltech in Pasadena, California manages the JPL for NASA. WATSON was built by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego and is jointly operated by MSSS and JPL.
The demonstration activity of the Mars helicopter technology is supported by NASA’s Directorate for Scientific Mission, the Directorate for Aeronautical Research and the Directorate for Space Technology.
The key goal of the Perseverance mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the geology of the planet and the past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet and be the first mission to collect and store Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in collaboration 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.
The Mars 2020 Persistence Mission is part of NASA’s approach to exploring the Moon to Mars, which includes Artemis’ missions to the Moon to help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.