Mars rover and helicopter take photos of each other like a couple of besties

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has snapped a pic of the space agency’s rover Perseverance from 12 metres above the Red Planet’s surface.

On April 22, during Flight 51, Ingenuity travelled 188 metres in 136.89 seconds to reposition the helicopter and take some pictures while on its journey. Like a photobomber in the background of a beach photo, Perseverance popped up in one of the shots.

The Mars helicopter completed its fiftieth flight on April 13. It was originally only scheduled to complete five flights, with the first taking place in April 2021.

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Perseverance’s cameo came only a few days after the rover itself took a photo of its airborne buddy Ingenuity. The rover’s photo came shortly after the 1.8-kilogram helicopter completed its 322.2-metre, three-minute fiftieth flight.

The photo revealed a dusty Ingenuity which had reached a height of 18 metres in that flight.

While it may seem like the robots are just messing about, Ingenuity and Perseverance have marked a huge leap forward in space exploration.

The plucky machines are exploring an ancient river delta on the edge of the 45-kilometre wide Jezero Crater. NASA hopes to learn about the crater’s formation, study Martian geology, and even possibly find signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.

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Meanwhile, the 240 kg Chinese rover Zhurong has been dormant since September 2022. A NASA aerial probe confirms that Zhurong hasn’t moved in months. Chinese state television reported this week that an unforeseen pile up of dust has probably affected the rover’s power generation, leaving it in a deep slumber.

Before going quiet, Zhurong had explored 1,921 metres of the Martian surface after landing successfully in May 2021.

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