Ingenuity helicopter takes photographs of particles subject on Mars

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Throughout its one-year anniversary flight on April 19, the little chopper took photographs 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 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 elements that allowed for a protected touchdown may 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 comparable to this,” stated Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s workforce 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 ambiance at virtually 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 displaying 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 displaying every thing from parachute inflation to landing,” stated Ian Clark, former Perseverance methods engineer and present Mars Pattern Return ascent section lead at JPL, in an announcement.

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

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

The backshell could be seen amongst a particles subject 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 strains connecting it to the parachute.

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The orange and white parachute could be seen, coated in mud, however the cover does not present any injury. It was the most important parachute used on Mars thus far, at 70.5 toes (21.5 meters) huge. The workforce will proceed to research the pictures to find out if the parachute skilled any modifications over the subsequent a number of weeks.

Throughout Ingenuity’s twenty sixth aerial tour, the chopper flew a complete of 1,181 toes (360 meters). To date, it has logged 49 minutes of complete flight time and traveled 3.9 miles (6.3 kilometers) over the previous 12 months.

“To get the photographs we wanted, Ingenuity did lots of maneuvering, however we had been assured as a result of there was sophisticated maneuvering on flights 10, 12, and 13,” stated 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 workforce 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 flooring and is riddled with boulders, pockets of sand and jagged cliffs — and it might be one of the best 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 may well additionally share photos of options that might turn into potential science targets for the rover.

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