NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, the first powered aircraft ever to fly on another world, just captured aerial photographs of the wrecked remains of some of the components that helped deliver it and its companion, the Perseverance rover, to the surface of the red planet last year.
The helicopter surveyed the remains of the parachute that slowed the spacecraft’s descent onto Mars in February 2021, as well as the shattered backshell that protected the precious $2.4 billion robotic mission as it hurtled through the Martian skies at 12,500 miles per hour.
After a series of complicated maneuvers nicknamed the “seven minutes of terror” by NASA mission scientists, Perseverance touched down safely in Jezero Crater, an ancient dried-up lakebed. During the approach, which was partially captured on film, the rover jettisoned its parachute and backshell. The hard shell crashed into Mars at a speed of 78 miles per hour about a mile from Perseverance’s landing site, an impact that the rover was actually able to capture in real time as part of its exciting descent footage.