NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter photographs Perseverance rover’s landing wreckage


This post is by Ingrid Cruz from Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has seen a lot on the Red Planet since it sent its first image back to Earth just over a year ago. Ingenuity has now set its sights on wreckage and debris from the Perseverance rover’s successful landing on Mars. Ingenuity’s new photos could still help inform future missions to Mars.

When the Perseverance rover landed on Mars, it was parachuted to the surface while protected by a backshell. This shell helped ensure a safe landing but was destroyed in the process. Ingenuity has captured detailed images of Perseverance’s backshell, supersonic parachute and associated debris.

‘Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown,’ said Ian Clark of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Clark was a Perseverance systems engineer and is now a Mars Sample Return ascent phase lead. ‘But Ingenuity’s images offer a different vantage point. If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.’

Perseverance impacted Mars at about 126 kph (78 mph). Many of the components that helped safely deliver the rover to the Martian surface remain intact, including parts of the backshell’s protective coating and the many of the 80 high-strength suspension lines connecting the shell to the parachute. The supersonic parachute, which is nearly 21.5m (70.5′) wide, shows no damage but further analysis is required.

Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

‘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 …