NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently conducting its scientific investigations on Mars. one of his most recent achievements was finally placing the Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars for the first time. The ingenuity was stored under Perseverance months before the rover was launched on the Red Planet.
Recently, Perseverance used the camera on its robotic arm to take a picture of itself with the Ingenuity helicopter near the background. Ingenuity was about 13 feet from Perseverance in the image, taken on April 6, 2021. That date was the 46th Martian sun for the mission.
The camera we can thank for the selfie is called WATSON or Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering. WATSON is part of the SHERLOC instrument at the end of the robotic arm. The selfie was not taken as a single image. Instead, it was sewn from 62 individual photos taken while Perseverance watched the helicopter.
Some images were also taken again while looking at the WATSON camera. Perseverance is at a station near the Ingenuity helicopter to receive and relay the final flight instructions from the mission controllers for the aircraft’s first test flight. NASA notes that several factors will decide the exact time of the flight, including modeling local wind patterns.
The dual rotors that NASA hopes to boost Ingenuity in the air spin at 2537 RPM. The helicopter will soar in the sky at about three feet per second and hover 10 feet above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Ingenuity will then safely lower itself back to the ground. Flight data, along with images and video, will be sent back to Earth several hours after the flight. A successful flight to Ingenuity could change the way Mars will be explored in the future.