NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter on Mars has snapped new images of spacecraft debris on the red planet. But it’s not aliens.
The images, taken from a height of 26 feet earlier this month, show the dust-covered cables connecting the rear shell to the supersonic parachute used by the Nailers when they landed last year.
This image of Perseverance’s rear hull (center left) and supersonic parachute (far right) was collected by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter from 26 feet on April 19, 2022.
The space agency said the cable appeared to be intact.
“The back shell and parachute help protect the rover during deep space and a rapid fall to the Martian surface,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a release.
Cables emerge from the back shell, leading to the hypersonic parachute that will take the Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover to Mars.
NASA said the debris field was the result of the back shell and parachute hitting the Martian surface at 78 miles per hour after releasing the Perseverance rover, which landed more lightly via a rocket-powered descent.
“The canopy showed no signs of being damaged by supersonic airflow during inflation,” NASA said.
In the image, only about a third of the 70-foot-wide parachute is visible.
Analysis of the images could help inform future Mars missions, NASA said.
“Perseverance is the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to landing,” former Perseverance systems engineer and current Mars sample return ascent phase lead Ian Clark said in a release. Condition. “But Ingenuity’s images provide a different vantage point. If they enhance our system to work as we think it is, or provide even a dataset of engineering information, we could use it for the Mars sample return program, which would Would be amazing. If not, the photos are still amazing and inspiring.”
The plutonium-powered Perseverance rover, NASA’s largest and most advanced rover on Mars, will search for signs of life in an area that scientists believe was once a river delta. It will also take samples, sealing them in tubes for future missions to collect and bring back to Earth.