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Throughout its one-year anniversary flight on April 19, the little chopper took images of the striped parachute used throughout Perseverance’s touchdown — sometimes called “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 may collect these photographs throughout its twenty sixth flight.
Learning the parts that allowed for a secure touchdown may help them put together for future missions to the purple 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 resembling this,” stated Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s group lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a press release.
“Each time we’re airborne, Ingenuity covers new floor and provides a perspective no earlier planetary mission may 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 environment at virtually 12,500 miles per hour (20,000 kilometers per hour).
Beforehand, we have solely seen photographs of the discarded touchdown gear from a rover’s perspective, like a picture taken by Perseverance exhibiting the parachute and backshell from a distance. Aerial photographs, captured for the primary time by Ingenuity from 26 ft (8 meters) within the air, present extra element.
“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars touchdown in historical past, with cameras exhibiting every part from parachute inflation to landing,” stated Ian Clark, former Perseverance techniques engineer and present Mars Pattern Return ascent section lead at JPL, in a press release.
“However Ingenuity’s photographs provide a distinct vantage level. In the event that they both reinforce that our techniques labored as we expect they labored or present even one dataset of engineering data we are able to use for Mars Pattern Return planning, it will likely be wonderful. And if not, the images are nonetheless phenomenal and galvanizing.”
The backshell may be seen amongst a particles area 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 traces connecting it to the parachute.
The orange and white parachute may be seen, coated in mud, however the cover does not present any injury. It was the most important parachute used on Mars so far, at 70.5 ft (21.5 meters) huge. The group will proceed to investigate the photographs 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 ft (360 meters). To this point, it has logged 49 minutes of whole flight time and traveled 3.9 miles (6.3 kilometers) over the previous yr.
“To get the photographs we would have liked, 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 a press release. “Our touchdown spot set us up properly to picture an space of curiosity for the Perseverance science group on Flight 27, close to ‘Séítah’ ridge.”
The helicopter and rover have arrived at an historic river delta the place water as soon as flowed into Jezero Crater thousands and thousands of years in the past.
The imposing delta rises greater than 130 ft (40 meters) above the crater ground and is riddled with boulders, pockets of sand and jagged cliffs — and it might be the very best place to seek for indicators of historic life if it ever existed on Mars.
Ingenuity has the essential job of surveying two dry river channels to see which one Perseverance ought to use to climb to the highest of the delta. It might additionally share photographs of options that might turn out to be potential science targets for the rover.
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