WATSON Spies Ingenuity on Perseverance Rover’s Belly

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter can be seen on the belly of the Perseverance rover, ready to be dropped off at the helicopter’s deployment location. This image was taken on March 25, 2021, the 35th Martian day, or sol, of the mission, by the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, located at the end of the rover’s long robotic arm. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built and manages operations of Perseverance and Ingenuity for the agency. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA. WATSON was built by Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) in San Diego and is operated jointly by MSSS and JPL. The Mars helicopter technology demonstration activity is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate. 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. For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ . For more about Ingenuity: go.nasa.gov/ingenuity .

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