In the latest NASA Mars pictures released, it seems that the Mars helicopter Ingenuity had encountered a challenging flight.
NASA Mars Pictures Show Challenging Flight by Mars Helicopter
According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) blog post, the Perseverance Rover has captured a video clip, on September 4, showing the 13th flight of Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. The said video provided a detailed look yet of the rotorcraft in action.
Despite the fact that the 160.5-second Flight 13 stands out as one of the most difficult, the Mars helicopter is making some preparations for its 16th flight, which will take place no earlier than Saturday, November 20.
The said flight mission involved flying into different terrain within the Sétah geological formation and obtaining various photographs of a specimen for the rover team. The NASA Mars pictures, taken from a height of 26 feet (8 meters), supplement those captured during Mars helicopter's Flight 12 and provide crucial information to Perseverance scientists and rover drivers.
One video clip of Flight 13 recorded by the Perseverance rover's two-camera Mastcam-Z revealed the majority of the rotorcraft's flight profile. The other video clip showed a close-up of the helicopter's takeoff and landing, which was captured as part of a science observation to measure the dust plumes that the Mars helicopter produces.
According to the deputy principal investigator for the Mastcam-Z instrument at NASA's JPL in Southern California Justin Maki, the value of Mastcam-Z shines through the video clips taken.
For those who do not know what Mastcam-Z is, NASA stated that it is the name of the mast-mounted camera system with a zoom feature placed on the Perseverance Rover. It has cameras that can zoom in, focus, and take high-speed 3D photos and video, to have a detailed analysis of distant objects.
"Even at 300 meters [328 yards] away, we get a magnificent closeup of takeoff and landing through Mastcam-Z's 'right eye.' And while the helicopter is little more than a speck in the wide view taken through the 'left eye,' it gives viewers a good feel for the size of the environment that Ingenuity is exploring," Deputy Maki added.
Previously, the Mars helicopter, along with NASA's other Mars spacecraft, remained silent in October after its Flight 13. Since the Red Planet and Earth were on the opposite sides of the Sun, it prevented most communications.
Afterward, Ingenuity conducted a brief experimental test flight before departing for Flight 15. It kicked off the multi-flight journey back to the region of Wright Brothers Field, which is its starting point back in April.
What Is Perseverance Rover?
In the said blog post, it also stated that the Perseverance Rover mission on Mars is focused on astrobiology, especially the discovery for evidence of ancient microbial life. Moreover, it also aims to investigate the planet's geology and previous climate as well as prepare the route for human exploration of Mars.
Aside from this, it also plans to be the first mission to gather and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Following NASA missions, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), will be sent to Mars to collect these sealed samples collected from the surface and return them to Earth for further investigation.