NASA’s rover Perseverance took a selfie on the surface of Mars capturing itself and the Ingenuity helicopter ahead of the first flight attempt on an alien planet.
The image published by NASA is merged into dozens of individual images from the rover’s WATSON camera (wide-angle topographic sensor for operations and eEngineering).
Follow the mini-helicopter Ingeniousness surviving the first night alone on a Martian surface separated from the Perseverance rover, which NASA hailed as a “major turning point.”
“The laws of physics may say it’s almost impossible to fly on Mars, but actually flying a vehicle heavier than air on the red planet is much harder than that,” NASA said.
The ingenuity will pass a handful of tests over the next few days, and if all systems work as they should, rotorcraft will try to fly for the first time before April 11th.
To commemorate the pioneers of flight from Earth, he wears a piece of cloth that covered one of the wings of the Wright brothers ’plane.
Its launch will also try to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the flight of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961.
Just hours after the flight, Perseverance will drop the first set of Ingenuity’s engineering data and “possible” images and video from its zoomed cameras, NASA says.
Using this data, the ingenious team will be able to determine if the first attempt to fly to Mars was successful, and the results will be discussed at a press conference the same day.
Flight is a challenge because the Martian atmosphere is only 1% of the density of the Earth’s atmosphere, which means that the spacecraft can struggle to take off, although it will be supported by gravity, which is only a third stronger than ours.
The small helicopter went through a series of exercises simulating a mission in a test facility in California, including a high-vibration environment to mimic how it will withstand launch and landing conditions, and extreme temperature changes like those on Mars.
The goal is for the helicopter to hover at 3m (10ft) above the surface for about 30 seconds before landing and touching back.
The autonomous small helicopter has a built-in camera, but it does not contain any scientific instruments. NASA aims to develop the drone as a prototype to determine if it might be worthwhile to connect scientific sensors to similar devices in the future.