NASA’s Martian Helicopter Photographs Spaceship Wreckage on Mars

Whether talking about real life or fiction, space travel is difficult. When Harry Vanderspeigle (real name unpronounceable) visits our pale blue dot, a stray lightning strikes his craft and he is stranded on Earth. Even the intelligent extraterrestrials of Resident Alien (streaming now on Peacock) can’t manage to visit another world without leaving a little wreckage.

If there was any destruction of alien spacecraft on our planet, we did not find it (or hid it), but we found the destruction of an alien spacecraft on Mars, and the aliens are us. During the 26th flight of Ingenuity, NASA’s small Martian quadcopter, scientists took pictures of the broken landing gear, crashed into the Martian regolith.

Perseverance and Wisdom Contaminate the Mars of Destruction

Ingenuity looks at some of the landing gear responsible for delivering it and the Perseverance rover safely to Earth. It’s all part of the complex Seven Minutes of Terror that began with the rovers’ time on the Red Planet.

RELATED: Video of Mars helicopter Ingenuity’s 25th flight

It takes seven minutes to get from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the ground, but it takes at least twice as long for any signal to get from Mars to Earth. Everything that happens during descent and landing should happen automatically, without real-time human intervention.

When Perseverance first touched the atmosphere, it was traveling between 12,000 and 13,000 miles per hour. The heat shield slammed into the thin alien air, heating up the friction and slowing the craft to a more manageable but still breakneck 1,000 miles per hour. Next, a supersonic parachute is deployed, and the heat shield drops, revealing the terrain mapping instruments beneath it. The parachute took it down to about 200 miles per hour, but the air on Mars wasn’t thick enough to slow it down much more than that. Obsolete, the parachute and the backshell it was anchored to were jettisoned. The retrorockets slow the craft to a stop, but they don’t touch the ground. Instead, they stopped about 20 meters above the ground, and a device called a Skycrane lowered the rover the rest of the way.

Then the crane exploded and crashed a safe distance away. Between the heat shield, parachute and backshell, and the Skycrane, there’s plenty of debris to go around.

Ingenuity Photographs About Endurance Landing Wreckage

It’s not a guarantee that Ingenuity will even work on Mars, but it’s quickly becoming one of the key elements of the mission. Not only is it endlessly cool to have a small helicopter orbiting Mars Ingenuity, so far, the only craft that has achieved controlled flight on another world but it also provides a new point of view. look at the Martian landscape.

Ingenuity was originally planned to make only five flights, but it did so well that scientists just kept going. At the time of writing, it has flown the red sky over 60 times and counting. During one of the bonus flights Ingenuity chased down some of its own wreckage and photographed the crime scene.

The damaged landing gear used to lower the Perseverance onto the Martian surface

The Mars Ingenuity Helicopter captured images of the damaged landing gear used to lower Perseverance onto the Martian surface. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA extended Ingenuity’s flight operations to make pioneering flights like this one possible. Each time in the air, Ingenuity covers new ground and offers a perspective that no previous mission on the planet could. The Mars Sample Returns reconnaissance request is a perfect example of the use of aerial platforms on Mars, said Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuitys team lead at JPL, in a statement.

RELATED: See Mars Jezero Crater for yourself in this great video tour

The Mars Sample Return program team is asking for images to inform future landing missions. Any sample return mission would require a Mars landing and liftoff again, to determine the performance of previous landing equipment to inform the design of that and other future missions.

Destroyed Perserverance landing equipment on the surface of Mars

Destroyed Perserverance landing equipment on the surface of Mars

An alternate angle of the parachute and backshell wreckage near the Perseverance landing site. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ingenuity lifted off at 11:37 AM local time on Mars and flew for 159 seconds. It rose to a height of about 8 meters (26 feet) and flew around the area taking pictures from many angles. The images show the supersonic parachute and the attached backshell. Scientists estimate that the backshell smashed into the ground at a speed of 126 kilometers (78 miles) per hour. That was fast and hard causing some obvious damage, but the equipment was relatively unscathed. Engineers noted that the protective coating, parachute, and many of the suspension lines appeared to have failed after the descent and crash-landing.

The potential engineering value of images is hard to measure, but the scrapbook value of the people at Cool Stuff is endless. We are watching about a crashed spaceship on another planet, and we are responsible for the aliens.

Granted, when aliens crash-land here, it rarely ends well. Watch the first two seasons of Resident Alien streaming now on Peacock.

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