What the new photos of Mars taken by Ingenuity show

What the new photos of Mars taken by Ingenuity show

Images taken by NASA's small helicopter drone show details that will help technicians redefine the Perseverance rover's mission and prevent it from getting into trouble

(Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU) During its ninth flight about ten meters from the surface of Mars, the small helicopter drone of NASA Ingenuity has taken a series of high-resolution photographs that show new details of the ground invisible in the images collected by the orbiters. Details that experts will use to plan scientific missions and to plot safer routes for the Perseverance rover.

In another first, aerial images taken by #MarsHelicopter helped scout an area of ​​interest for the @NASAPersevere science team and revealed obstacles the rover may need to drive around as it explores Jezero Crater. https://t.co/R0EqMTVRq0 pic.twitter.com/4FSAGAYNjw

- NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) July 13, 2021

The right middle way

Until now, NASA had been able to observe the surface of the red planet either from the images captured by the orbiters or from those transmitted directly by the rovers. The photos of the orbiters, however, are able to capture details (rocks or other) with at least one meter in diameter. Smaller objects until now could only be recognized through rover cameras such as Perseverance.

Now the technicians have a middle ground: Ingenuity's "eyes" "bridge the resolution gap well", he commented Ken Williford of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Jpl). The helicopter, in fact, rises from the Martian ground by about ten meters and can provide a high-resolution overview of the terrain, away from any obstacles or accidents along the way.

(Image: Traces of Perseverance / Nasa / Jpl-Caltec) This, experts say, is great for future exploration, for identifying places worth exploring and where to collect samples, and for planning routes safer for rovers - journeys with fewer obstacles and pitfalls that could jeopardize the objectives.

Water channels and alien life

The new images of Ingenuity, taken on July 5th and arrived on Earth only on the 8th, they show in particular details of the so-called Raised Ridges. These are rock formations within the Jezero crater (which must have been a huge lake millions of years ago) that scientists find of great interest because they may be ancient underground water channels.

(Image: Raised Ridges / Nasa / Jpl-Caltech) And where there has been water there is a greater chance of finding traces of life, if there has ever been. From here will be collected samples that NASA plans to retrieve and bring to Earth in a future recovery mission.

Watch out for the sand

Ingenuity has also scoured one of the paths that Perseverance should have followed inside the Jezero crater. The rover was supposed to pass the Séitah dune field, but from the Ingenuity images it seems that the sandy layer may be too deep for Perseverance (which despite its six wheels weighs more than a ton): the rover could sink and not be in able to get out of it.

(Image: Séitah dunes / Nasa / Jpl-Caltech) Perseverance is equipped with an automatic long distance guidance system (AutoNav) which is capable of recognizing certain obstacles and avoiding rocks , but is not very good at detecting sand dunes, which puts the rover at risk.

“The helicopter is an extremely valuable resource for rover route planning because it provides high resolution images of the rover. terrain that we want to cross ”, confirmed Olivier Toupet, one of the pilots on the ground of Perseverance:“ We can better evaluate the size of the dunes and where the rocky substrate appears. This is great information for us: it helps identify which areas the rover can traverse and whether certain high-value scientific goals are achievable. ”

(Image: Séitah dunes / Nasa / Jpl-Caltech)
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Mars Nasa Perseverance globalData.fldTopic = "Mars, Nasa, Perseverance"

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