NASA photos show Perseverance landing debris left on Mars

In February 2021, the The Perseverance rover has landed on Martian soil after a seven-month journey. A cone-shaped back shell protected him on his journeys through deep space and on his fiery descent, while a parachute with a secret message that reads “Dare mighty things” slowed him down enough to a safe landing. Perseverance had to drop these components when it began to roam the planet. On April 19, the rover’s companion helicopter, the Ingenuitytook photos of the debris left at the landing site – and now NASA has shared pictures showing what it looks like.

JPL’s Ian Clark said Perseverance had the best-documented landing in history so far, but Ingenuity’s photos offer a different perspective that could help ensure a safer landing for future spacecraft. This includes the Mars Sample Return Lander mission, which will retrieve the samples Perseverance collects so they can be sent back to Earth for analysis. It was the program engineers who asked if Ingenuity could take pictures of the debris.

“Yes [the images] either reinforcing that our systems worked the way we think they worked, or even providing a dataset of technical information that we can use for Mars sample return planning, that will be amazing. And otherwise, the images are always phenomenal and inspiring,” Clark explained.

In the photo above, you’ll see what’s left of the rear hull and the overall result of the spacecraft hitting the surface at 78 mph. NASA notes that the hull’s protective coating remains intact, as do the lines connecting the hull to the parachute which is now buried in dirt. Agency scientists will analyze the images over the next few weeks to determine a final verdict, which will likely contain information that could help future missions.

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