NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars way back in February. Just moments after its safe touchdown, the massive machine sent back images of the Martian surface and started relaying all sorts of data so that its handlers back on Earth knew it had been doing fine. With this rapid start, you’d feel that the rover would be well into its science campaign by today, but in truth, it is only starting .
Perseverance is a big, complicated machine with a lot of high-tech hardware built-in. Like any accountable space agency, NASA needed to follow its strict instructions on the way the very first weeks and months of its assignment were going to play out. For Perseverance, it meant lengthy tests of its different detectors and detectors, but that wouldn’t have been enough to postpone the science stage until June. What exactly caused the large gap between landing and science investigation? Ingenuity.
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Perseverance wasn’t the only NASA machine that touched down on the Red Planet in February. The Ingenuity helicopter, which rode to Mars on the abdomen of Perseverance, also came in 1 piece. The helicopter, while small, was an very significant part the Mars 2020 mission, and NASA wasted no time in set up it so that flight tests could start.
The key here is that Ingenuity required Perseverance to remain nearby to be able to relay data back to Earth. The large rover also served as an observation tool for its flight tests, sending its images and movie of the helicopter in activity so that the Ingenuity team understood how well it was doing. Ingenuity surpassed expectations and has demonstrated that powered flight on Mars is not just possible, but it might also be the best approach to research large stretches of the Red Planet in an efficient method.
Needing to stay within shouting distance of Ingenuity meant that Perseverance could not do the sort of exploring it could have otherwise have been able to. That didn’t stop the rover from testing out a number of its most exciting tools, however, along with the rover has relayed the initial Martian audio and above 75,000 photos, in accordance with NASA. The rover can officially begin its science stage, and the rover team is excited.
“We are putting the rover’s commissioning phase as well as the landing site in our rearview mirror and hitting the road,” Jennifer Trosper, project director of Perseverance, said in a statement. “Over the next few months, Perseverance w