NASAis latest March rover used a camera at the end of his robot arm to take this shot by himself with the Ingenuity helicopter nearby.
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 meters (4 meters) away in this image from April 6, 2021, the 46th of March, or sun, of the mission. Endurance captured the image using a camera called WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering), part of the instrument SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals), located at the end of the rover’s robotic arm .
The endurance selfie with ingenuity was sewn together by 62 individual photos taken while the rover was looking at the helicopter, then again while looking at the WATSON camera. Videos explaining how NASA’s endurance and curiosity robbers take their selfies can be found here.
When the team is ready to try the first flight, endurance receives the last flight instructions from and is forwarded to Ingenuity JPL mission controllere. Several factors will determine the exact time of the flight, including modeling local wind patterns informed by measurements taken by the MEDA instrument (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer) on board the Perseverance. Ingenuity will run its rotors at 2,537 rpm, and if all final self-checks look good, they will be lifted off. After climbing at a speed of approx. 3 feet per second (1 meter per second), the helicopter will soar 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Then ingenuity will fall and touch the surface of Mars again.
Several hours after the first flight has taken place, Perseverance will downlink Ingenuity’s first set of technical data and possibly images and video from rovers Navigation cameras and Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras. From the data linked down the first night after the flight, the Ingenuity team expects to be able to determine if its first attempt to fly on Mars was successful. Results of flight tests will be discussed by the Ingenuity team at a media conference on the same day.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and manages operations with endurance and ingenuity for the agency. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. WATSON was built by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego and is jointly operated by MSSS and JPL.
The demonstration activity on Mars helicopter technology is supported by NASA’s Directorate of Science Mission, the Directorate of Aeronautics Research Mission and the Space Technology Mission Directorate.
A key goal of the endurance mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for evidence of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the red planet and be the first mission to collect and cache martian rock and regolith (crushed 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 endurance mission is part of NASA’s exploration approach to the moon to Mars, which includes Artemis missions to the moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the red planet.