The images may help NASA and the European Space Agency with their next Mars sample return mission.
The 4-pound (1.8 kilos) Ingenuity photographed the parachute and backshell and NASA’s Perseverance rover land inside the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021 during its most recent journey, which took place on April 19.
The famous Perseverance, with Ingenuity snuggled in its belly, was aided by the conical backshell in surviving the long journey from Mars to Earth, as well as the brief but hot excursion through Mars’ atmosphere. The mission’s supersonic parachute was the largest ever deployed on Mars, measuring 70.5 feet (21.5 meters) wide. The rover’s descent was considerably slowed, and it was eventually lowered to Jezero’s floor on cables by a rocket-powered sky crane.
The backshell and parachute did an excellent job, as Perseverance and Ingenuity’s good health attests. And preliminary analysis of the new Ingenuity photographs indicate that the landing gear performed admirably despite the extreme forces it was subjected to. (The backshell is broken, which is understandable considering that it hit the Martian soil at a speed of around 78 mph (on landing day).
During the 159-second flight on April 19, Ingenuity snapped ten photos of the backshell and parachute from various angles. According to JPL authorities, the helicopter traversed 1,181 feet (360 meters) on the mission and flew at a height of 26 feet (8 meters).
The mission was Ingenuity’s 26th on Mars, and it took place on the one-year anniversary of the spacecraft’s historic first mission.
Ingenuity is a technological demonstration mission that was originally tasked with completing a five-flight mission to demonstrate that airborne exploration of Mars is possible.
The rotorcraft is now on a longer mission, testing the limits of Red Planet flying searching for life and collecting samples, persevering in the desert planet, keeping up to its name – Perseverance.