NASA’s Mars Orbiter has captured a stunning scene of the Red Planet – but that’s not all.
Two very important objects are hidden in the photo.
the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was started in 2005 and reached its goal in 2006.
Since then, it has been circling overhead, taking photos of Mars.
And from a distance of 180 miles above the surface, it has managed to image two of Nasa’s own creations.
The first looks like a tiny speck – but it’s actually a helicopter.
That may sound far-fetched, but it is NASA’s Ingenuity dronewhich has completed nearly two dozen flights on the Red Planet.
And the second object – slightly larger this time – is it NASA’s Perseverance Rover.
The MRO image was analyzed by the Nasa HiRISE imaging program team at the University of Arizona.
“The 3 by 2.7 meter (10 ft by 9 ft) rover sits on the fractured bedrock of what mission scientists call the Máaz Formation, which is believed to be magmatic (volcanic) in origin,” said Dr. Matthew Chojnacki of Planetary Science Institute, in a position for the UoA.
“The primary scientific target is the Delta Deposit, believed to have formed billions of years ago from sediments once transported by an ancient river, and which is still several kilometers to the north.
“HiRISE will likely re-image Perseverance during its long journey.”
The image also shows the Ingenuity helicopter 200 meters to the west.
It has completed an impressive 23 flights since it first took to the air in April last year.
Ingenuity is a proof-of-concept vehicle that will pave the way for future Mars probes.
Scientists hope to use drone-like vehicles to explore hard-to-reach places like tunnels and caves where life is thought to have once lurked.
The trip will help NASA gather invaluable data on the conditions Mars – which is 173 million miles from Earth.
Ingenuity’s first flight was delayed after a software problem arose during a high-speed test of the 4-pound helicopter’s rotors.
The agency had to rewrite and re-upload the drone’s code by relaying it on a spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet.
Before the start, Nasa had described the unprecedented helicopter mission as “highly risky” because the air was on Mars is so thin – less than one percent of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.
Ingenuity reached Mars on the underside of the Perseverance rover, which landed on Feb 18.
The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, paving the way for human exploration of Mars.
It will also be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8593111/nasa-mars-photo-helicopter-ingenuity-perseverance/ Levitating NASA probe reveals photo of Mars surface with big mystery – can you spot it?