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NASA’s Mars Helicopter Spots Landing Wreckage

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View of the parachute and protective backshell of the Perseverance Rover on Mars. | Image by NASA, JPL-Caltech

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On Wednesday, NASA shared images of a crashed spacecraft on the surface of Mars. The pictures show the parachute and protective backshell of the Perseverance Rover on Mars.

The images of the wreckage were identified and photographed by the Ingenuity helicopter operated by NASA.

“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown,” said Ian Clark, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and former Perseverance systems engineer.

“But Ingenuity’s images offer a different vantage point. If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring,” said Clark.

He is in charge of the ascent portion of the Mars Sample Return mission

Space Flight Now reports the Ingenuity helicopter has been circling Mars identifying features to photograph. On April 19, the wreckage of Perseverance was identified.

The flight by the rotorcraft lasted 156 seconds. The Ingenuity helicopter completed several maneuvers to gain photographs of the crash site.

NASA scientists hope to use the images to understand the crash’s impact further. The wreckage could be used to help improve future missions to Mars.

Currently, NASA is in the planning stage of a mission to bring samples from the surface of Mars back to Earth. The photos of the rover wreckage could play a role in improving the engineering process for the mission.

NASA Jet Propulsion expert Ian Clark said the images would play a key role in understanding the flight path through the atmosphere of Mars. Clark explained the wreckage photos showed the success of the mission and helped scientists understand the difficulties of entering the atmosphere of Mars.

Ingenuity has completed twenty-three flights, including its pass over the wreckage site. The rotary-operated craft has moved 3.9-miles during its time on Mars. The twenty-six flights have been conducted across forty-nine minutes of flying time.

Space Flight Now reports Perseverance has changed how Mars is being explored using cameras and new technologies.

After landing, the Perseverance Rover surveyed its surrounding area before traveling to the Jazero Crater. The route to the Jazero Crater was reportedly the most rugged of any previously traveled. The site was once a river delta flowing into the crater.

Perseverance entered Mars ‘atmosphere on February 18, 2021.

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