Shortly after dropping off his little companion Ingenuity on Mars, Perseverance photographed himself with the helicopter. The result is a great selfie, where you can clearly see the size difference between the two robots.
Using its robotic arm, the Perseverance rover got its very first selfie with the small Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. NASA presented this beautiful image on April 7, 2021, a few days after the rover dropped its companion on the surface of the Red Planet.
In this photo, Ingenuity is just under 4 meters from Perseverance. The snapshot was obtained on April 6, the 46th sol (the name of the Martian day) of the Mars 2020 mission, which has been placed since February 18 in the Jezero crater. The rover used the WATSON (“Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering”) camera located on its SHERLOC (“Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals”) instrument located at the end of its arm. In total, 62 images had to be assembled, sent by the rover to Earth, to create this view.
Big rover and small helicopter
The selfie allows you to realize the difference in size between the two Martian robots. Ingenuity has to be especially small and light, both to be able to attach to Perseverance, and then to be able to ascend into the tenuous atmosphere of Mars. The rover is roughly the size of a car, while Ingenuity’s fuselage (its “body,” without its blades) is the size of a box of tissues. Here are their compared dimensions.
|Weight (on Earth)||1 025 kg||1,8 kg|
|Height||2,2 m||49 cm|
|Length||3 m (without the arm)||1.2 m (for each rotor)|
The dimensions of Perseverance are roughly similar to those of NASA’s other active Martian rover, Curiosity. They are cough two 2.2 meters high, Curiosity being however a little lighter (899 kg). We must therefore not imagine the Martian rovers as small robots, but rather imposing machines, hence the difficulty of landing them without damage on another planet.
NASA plans to attempt a very first flight with the Ingenuity helicopter no earlier than April 11. At this point, the two robots will not be as close together as in this selfie. Perseverance will have rolled away to get away from its companion. He will attend his tests at a distance of 100 meters, so that he can continue to communicate with him while remaining safe. Should Ingenuity have an incident, the rover’s mission must not be compromised. The helicopter is above all designed as a technological demonstration by NASA, which has not equipped it with any scientific instrument.
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