NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory URL: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/nasas-mars-helikopter-spots-gear-that-helped-perseverance-rover-land
SPACE – An impressive aerial view. On April 19, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars received unique images of the parachute and cone that protected the Perseverance rover when it arrived on the Red Planet in February 2021.
Revealed by NASA this Thursday, April 28, these ten color images of the Jezero crash landing are of rare clarity. It is another technical achievement for the Ingenuity helicopter, which has just celebrated its one-year mission to Mars. “Every time we are carried in the air, Ingenuity covers new ground and provides an image that no previous planetary mission has been able to reach (…),” said Teddy Tzanetos, Head of the Ingenuity Team at Jet Propulsion. NASA Lab, in a statement.
“The best documented Mars landing in history”
The mission of this tiny helicopter, which left with Perseverance on February 18, was initially supposed to last 31 days and would be limited to five test flights. Ingenuity is already on its 26th flight and is multiplying its achievements. These latest photos of Perseverance landing will allow scientists to prepare for future missions to Mars.
Indeed, this is not a coincidence. Ingenuity serves as a detector for the Perseverance mission. This joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency aims to bring the materials collected by the rover back to Earth, probably as early as 2033.
“Perseverance had the best documented landing on Mars in history,” said Ian Clark, a former Perseverance systems engineer. “But Ingenuity images offer a different perspective. If they confirm that our systems worked or even provide a set of technical information that we can use to plan the return of samples to Mars, that would be great. And if not, the images are still amazing and inspiring. “
New missions for Ingenuity
The first analyzes of the new photos from Ingenuity show that the landing went very well for Perseverance despite the pressure received by the rover. The descent to the red planet takes place in extreme conditions associated with entering the atmosphere of Mars with almost 20,000 kilometers per hour. Nevertheless, the Perseverance parachute and protective shell remained in good condition.
You can not see it in the photos, but “the protective coating on the back shell seems to have remained intact as it entered the Martian atmosphere. Many of the 80 lines (cables connecting the canopy of a parachute, author’s note) “They are visible and also visible,” explained NASA scientists.
Ingenuity will continue to take photos and its missions will be further expanded. The helicopter will help Perseverance uncover the remains of a delta that existed on Jezero land billions of years ago. This area could contain traces of ancient life on the red planet.
The (very important) role of Ingenuity will be to determine the best route to reach the top of the delta. “We can even use the ingenuity of the helicopter to take pictures of geological elements too far for the rover to reach,” imagine the Mars mission. The ingenuity has not ended to surprise us.
See also at The HuffPost: The final flight of the Ingenuity helicopter was very stressful for NASA