NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter scouts Ridgeline for the persistence science team

Ingenuity Helicopter Flight

An animation illustrating NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter flying to Mars. Credit: NASA

Rotorkraft provided rover scientists with an aerial perspective of an interesting rockery.

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Scouts Ridgeline for Perseverance Science Team

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter scouted this ridgeline near the ancient river delta in Jezero Crater because it is of interest to Perseverance rover scientists. Enlarged at right is a close-up of one of the ridgeline’s rocky outcrops. The image was captured on April 23, during the rotorcraft’s 27th flight. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The ridgeline, which the science team calls “Fortun Ridge” after a parish in Norway, is a geologic feature of interest because data collected from orbit, and at a distance by Perseverance, indicates it is the boundary between the two major rock units on the crater floor.

Previous images suggest tilted layers of rock in this area of Mars are uncommon (unlike on Earth, where plate tectonics and earthquakes cause tilting). The science team will also have an opportunity to compare the Flight 27 images of this feature with data collected by both Ingenuity and Perseverance of an angled ridgeline nicknamed “Artuby” (see image below) in the “South Séítah” region of the crater. Comparing Ingenuity’s shots of the two angled ridgelines may help team scientists better understand the history of the crater floor and, possibly, the forces that were at play in this part of Jezero Crater billions of years ago.

Artuby Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover took these zoomed-in images of a layered outcrop (just below center of image) nicknamed “Artuby” on June 17, 2021 (the 116th sol, or Martian Day, of its mission), from a little more than a third of a mile (615 meters) away. This mosaic is made up of three images taken by the Remote Microscopic Imager (RMI), part of the rover’s SuperCam instrument. Each circular image has a field of view of 37.73 feet (11.50 meters) at this distance. The images were combined using an algorithm that weights the image centers. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/CNRS

This recent science-oriented foray by Ingenuity follows scouting the helicopter performed to view the backshell and parachute that helped the Perseverance rover safely land on Mars with Ingenuity attached to its belly. Those images have the potential to help ensure safer landings for future spacecraft such as the Mars Sample Return Lander, which is part of a multimission campaign that would bring Perseverance’s samples of Martian rocks, atmosphere, and sediment back to Earth for detailed analysis.

More About Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which also manages the project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. Lockheed Space designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

More About Perseverance

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

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