NASA's Mars Helicopter Spots Gear That Helped Perseverance Rover Land
Eyeing some of the components that enabled the rover to get safely to the Martian surface could provide valuable insights for future missions.NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently surveyed
Eyeing some of the components that enabled the rover to get safely to the Martian surface could provide valuable insights for future missions.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently surveyed both the parachute that helped the agency’s Perseverance rover land on Mars and the cone-shaped backshell that protected the rover in deep space and during its fiery descent toward the Martian surface on Feb. 18, 2021. Engineers with the Mars Sample Return program asked whether Ingenuity could provide this perspective. What resulted were 10 aerial color images taken April 19 during Ingenuity’s Flight 26.
“NASA extended Ingenuity flight operations to perform pioneering flights such as this,” said Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s team lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Every time we’re airborne, Ingenuity covers new ground and offers a perspective no previous planetary mission could achieve. Mars Sample Return’s reconnaissance request is a perfect example of the utility of aerial platforms on Mars.”
Entry, descent, and landing on Mars is fast-paced and stressful, not only for the engineers back on Earth, but also for the vehicle enduring the gravitational forces, high temperatures, and other extremes that come with entering Mars’ atmosphere at nearly 12,500 mph (20,000 kph). The parachute and backshell were previously imaged from a distance by the Perseverance rover.