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The Ingenuity helicopter has captured a singular fowl’s-eye perspective of the gear that helped land the Perseverance rover on Mars.
Throughout its one-year anniversary flight on April 19, the little chopper took pictures of the striped parachute used throughout Perseverance’s touchdown – also known as “7 minutes of terror” as a result of it occurs quicker than radio indicators can attain Earth from Mars – on February 18, 2021. It additionally noticed the cone-shaped backshell that helped shield 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 may collect these photographs 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 pink 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 akin to this,” stated Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s workforce lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a press release.
“Each time we’re airborne, Ingenuity covers new floor and provides a perspective no earlier planetary mission may 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 ambiance at virtually 12,500 miles per hour (20,000 kilometers per hour).
Beforehand, we’ve solely seen photographs 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 photographs, captured for the primary time by Ingenuity from 26 ft (8 meters) within the air, present extra element.
“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars touchdown in historical past, with cameras exhibiting every part from parachute inflation to landing,” stated Ian Clark, former Perseverance programs engineer and present Mars Pattern Return ascent part lead at JPL, in a press release.
“However Ingenuity’s photographs supply a unique vantage level. In the event that they both reinforce that our programs labored as we expect they labored or present even one dataset of engineering data we are able to use for Mars Pattern Return planning, it will likely be superb. And if not, the images are nonetheless phenomenal and provoking.”
The backshell might be seen amongst a particles area it created after hitting the Martian floor whereas transferring 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 traces connecting it to the parachute.
The orange and white parachute might be seen, coated in mud, however the cover doesn’t present any harm. It was the most important parachute used on Mars thus far, at 70.5 ft (21.5 meters) vast. The workforce will proceed to research the pictures to find out if the parachute skilled any adjustments over the subsequent a number of weeks.
Throughout Ingenuity’s twenty sixth aerial tour, the chopper flew a complete of 1,181 ft (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 12 months.
“To get the photographs we would have liked, Ingenuity did a variety of maneuvering, however we had been assured as a result of there was difficult maneuvering on flights 10, 12, and 13,” stated Håvard Grip, chief pilot of Ingenuity at JPL, in a press release. “Our touchdown spot set us up properly to picture an space of curiosity for the Perseverance science workforce on Flight 27, close to ‘Séítah’ ridge.”
The helicopter and rover have arrived at an historical river delta the place water as soon as flowed into Jezero Crater tens of millions of years in the past.
The imposing delta rises greater than 130 ft (40 meters) above the crater ground and is riddled with boulders, pockets of sand and jagged cliffs – and it could possibly be the most effective place to seek for indicators of historical life if it ever existed on Mars.
Ingenuity has the essential process 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 photographs of options that might turn out to be potential science targets for the rover.
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