Just Two Robots Hanging Out on Mars

Just Two Robots Hanging Out on Mars

The Ingenuity helicopter was imaging a dune-covered region of Jezero Crater on its 11th flight on Mars when the Perseverance rover was caught in the frame of its camera. Depending on how you see the craft, it either looks like an errant rock formation trying to fit in amid the Martian landscape or a deer in the headlights. You can’t be blamed if you interpret it differently, though; the rover was imaged from about 487.68 m away and 11.89 m in the air.

The flight, undertaken so the helicopter could stay ahead of Perseverance as the rover bumbles along on the ground, saw the craft fly north-by-northwest for just over two minutes at 18 km per hour, eventually landing on the eighth airfield it’s picked out since its maiden flight, according to NASA.

You’ll have to zoom way in on the full image to spot the hardworking rover — just draw an imaginary line up from the helicopter’s shadow at the bottom of the image all the way to the top, and Perseverance will be tucked among some rocks to the right side of that line.

It’s not the first time Ingenuity snapped an image of Perseverance. The rover also snuck into the frame on Ingenuity’s third flight, when the helicopter was still demonstrating the utility of aerial drones on Mars and the rover was still going through its checks before embarking on its scientific work.

“Ingenuity’s aerial images are awesome – but even better when you get to play ‘Where’s Perseverance?’ with them,” said Robert Hogg, a senior systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a NASA news release. “Once you find our rover and zoom in, you can make out some details, like the wheels, remote sensing mast, and the [Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator] on the aft end.”

The rover is slated to move into the dune field that Ingenuity was imaging, called the South Séítah, by September, to attempt a successful rock sampling. The rover’s most recent sampling attempt failed when the target rock crumbled into fine sediment.

More: Here’s What’s Next for NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover