(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recently surveyed an intriguing ridge near an ancient river delta in Lake Jezero Crater.
The images, taken on April 23 during the tiny helicopter’s 27th flight, were taken at the request of the Perseverance rover’s science team, who wanted to get a closer look at the sloping surface.
“Ingenuity not only provides aerial imagery, but also allows our team to be in two places on Mars at the same time,” said Caltech’s Ken Farley, scientific director of the Perseverance project.
“Sending a rover to scout and search in one location while a helicopter is launched to scout another hundreds of meters away is a big time saver. It can also help us explore areas that the rover will never visit, like in this case”.
The ridge, which the science team is calling Fortune Ridge, is of geological interest because data collected from orbit and from a distance by Perseverance indicates that it is the boundary between two major rocks at the bottom of the crater.
Previous images show that tilting of rock layers in this region of Mars is rare (unlike on Earth, where plate tectonics and earthquakes cause tilting).
The science team will also have the opportunity to compare images of this feature from Cruise 27 with data collected by Ingenuity and Perseverance on a sloping ridge line nicknamed “Artubi” in South Seita crater.
Comparing Ingenuity images of the two tilted ridges could help the team’s scientists better understand the history of the crater floor and possibly the forces that were at work in this part of Lake Lake billions of years ago.
This recent Ingenuity science outing follows a helicopter scout to view the back shell and parachute that helped the Perseverance rover land safely on Mars with Ingenuity attached to its belly.
These images could help ensure the safer landing of future spacecraft such as the Mars Sample Return Lander, which is part of several missions that will bring Perseverance’s Martian rock, atmosphere and sediment samples back to Earth for detailed analysis.
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