NASA’s Perseverance rover spots its own parachute on Mars

NASA’s flagship Mars rover Perseverance has been exploring Jezero Crater for over a year now. As it traveled to its newest destination, Perseverance spotted its own parachute that it used to descend towards Mars’ surface safely.

Currently, Perseverance is performing a fast traverse across the Martian surface to reach an ancient river delta. During this fast traverse, Perseverance won’t be stopping to look at rocks along the way but will just focus on driving. Along the way, however, Perseverance spotted the iconic orange and white parachute it used during landing in February 2021.

Off in the distance, in a photo taken by Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z zoom camera, you can see the parachute lying on the ground. Next to it is the rover back shell, on which Perseverance, via the rocket crane, was attached. Perseverance used this parachute to slow itself down until the altitude of about 2 km. Then Perseverance was released and made a controlled landing using rockets, a crazy process you can read about here.

The orange and white parachute used by Perseverance held a secret message, one of many Easter eggs left by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs when building it. The message, in binary, read “Dare Mighty Things,” which is JPL’s motto.

Perseverance’s parachute during descent. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perseverance and Ingenuity’s record breaking trip

We mentioned earlier that Perseverance is during a “fast traverse” to the dried-up river delta. By limiting how often the rover stops, and JPL allowing Perseverance to decide its own routes instead of using human planned ones, the rover can travel between 200-300 meters per day. That might not be fast here on Earth, but for Mars, that is blazing fast compared to past rovers.

Ingenuity is also making the trip to meet Perseverance at the delta, aerial photos of the parachute would be cool to see. Mars’ first helicopter is lagging behind Perseverance, but it can make up some serious distance, up to 600 meters per flight. In total, Perseverance has flown over 25 times, far past the planned five it was designed for.

Once at the delta, Perseverance and Ingenuity will team up to study the area, hopefully making some major discoveries by doing so. You can track Perseverance and Ingenuity’s progress at JPL’s website or on the map above.

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