A beautiful new mosaic of photos shows Mars from NASA Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter like you’ve never seen before.
Perseverance watches over the little helicopter like a doting parent in the picture, which citizen scientist Seán Doran pieced together from 62 photos taken Tuesday (April 6) by the car-sized rover.
It took a few hours to make the mosaic, which Doran posted today through his Twitter account, @_TheSeaning. He said he put the constituent images through a “denoising, repairing and enhancing process” before combining them.
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“Then there is a laborious task of correcting the exposure differences between the images. Then another pass of image processing to arrive at a final look,” Doran told Space.com by email.
NASA also shared a similar view of Perseverance today, which it advertised as a “selfie,” showing an animated view of the rover staring at Ingenuity and then at its arm-mounted camera. That mosaic was also built with 62 images, agency officials said.
“NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (4 meters) away in this image from April 6, 2021, the 46th Martian day, or sun, mission, “NASA jet propulsion officials. Laboratory, which oversees the Perseverance mission, wrote in an image description.
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The two mosaics capture the period leading up to a historic moment in planetary exploration. Members of the mission team are preparing Ingenuity for its first test flight, which could take place on Sunday (April 11).
That outing, the first robot-powered flight in the skies of an alien world, will be followed by a handful of others during a month-long campaign that aims to show that aerial exploration is feasible on Mars.
If Ingenio succeeds, the future missions of the Red Planet may commonly include helicopters, which could serve as rover explorers and collect data on their own, NASA officials have said.
Ingenuity will not collect any data, as the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) helicopter does not carry any scientific instruments. But it will document your flights with a high resolution camera. And Perseverance will be watching too, from a safe distance. There is even the possibility that the rover can record audio of Ingenuity flights using its two built-in microphonesNASA officials have said.
“Focusing on the connection between Percy and Ginny was an obvious choice for this composition,” Doran wrote in his email. “It is very exciting to see new photos from another planet, but this one is very special and I hope the technology demonstration will be a great success.”
With the Ingenuity job done, Perseverance will begin to seriously focus on his own scientific mission. The six-wheeled robot will search for signs of ancient life on Mars and collect and store dozens of samples for its future return to Earth.
This work, and the Ingenuity flights, will take place on the floor of the 45-kilometer-wide Jezero crater, where Perseverance and the helicopter landed together on February 18. Images captured by Mars orbiters show that Jezero was home to a large lake and river delta billions of years ago.
You can find more of Doran’s imaging work at your Twitter account and in your YouTube channel.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.