NASAthe latest Mars The Rover used a camera on the end of its robotic arm to take this photo of itself with the Ingenuity helicopter nearby.
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 4 meters away in this image from April 6, 2021, the 46th day of Mars, or sol, of the mission. Persistence captured the image using a camera called WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering), part of the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, at the end of the robotic arm of the robber.
Perseverance’s selfie with Ingenuity was pieced together from 62 separate photos taken while the rover was looking at the helicopter and then again while looking at the WATSON camera. Videos explaining how NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers take their selfies can be found here.
Once the team is ready to execute the first flight, Perseverance will receive the final flight instructions and pass it on to Ingenuity of JPL mission controllers. Several factors will determine the precise time for flight, including modeling of local wind patterns based on measurements performed by the MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) instrument on board Perseverance. Resourcefulness will spin its rotors to 2,537rpm and, if all final self-checks look good, take off. After climbing at a speed of about 3 feet per second (1 meter per second), the helicopter will hover at 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Then Ingenuity will descend and return to the surface of Mars.
A few hours after the maiden flight takes place, Perseverance will downlink the first set of technical data from Ingenuity and possibly images and video from the rover’s navigation cameras and Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras. Using the data downloaded that first night after the flight, the Ingenuity team expects to be able to determine whether the first attempt to fly to Mars was a success. The results of the test flights will be discussed by the Ingenuity team that same day during a media conference.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and manages activities of persistence and ingenuity for the agency. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. WATSON is built by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego and is jointly managed by MSSS and JPL.
The Mars helicopter technology demonstration activity is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate.
A major goal of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s past geology and climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and store Martian rock and regolith (fractured 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 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, including Artemis missions to the moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.