FP TrendingMar 31, 2021 18:11:50 IST
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Curiosity rover has snapped a selfie with a majestic rock formation on Mars, known as Mont Mercou. The Mars rover also captured a pair of panoramic pictures, providing a three-dimensional view, of the stark cliff face of the landmark. The selfie, created from 60 individual images, was taken on 26 March 2021 – the 3,070th Martian day (sol) of Curiosity’s mission, by two cameras on the rover. The first is the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), located on Curiosity’s robotic arm. Eleven of the images were also contributed by the Mastcam, taken on a 16 March photo-spree.
Mont Mercou is about 20 feet (6 meters) tall. Curiosity has drilled a sample of the rock, which the team has nicknamed ‘Nontron’, NASA said in a statement. The nomenclature gives the science team leeway to examine and explain the composition and origin of the rock on the Red Planet. The spot at which Curiosity snapped its selfie with Mont Mercou is at the transition between the ‘clay-bearing unit’ in the Gale Crater – from where the rover is departing, and the ‘sulfate-bearing unit’ in Mount Sharp, to where the rover is headed.
Earlier in March, Curiosity had taken some more panoramas with its Mastcam instrument. Studying these images from more than one angle helps scientists understand the 3D geometry of the sedimentary layers that make up Mount Mercou.
NASA is parallelly gearing up to deploy the first helicopter to fly on another world. The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was carefully deployed from the belly of the Perseverance rover, the mission team at JPL shared in a recent tweet.
We’re in the home stretch. The #MarsHelicopter has lowered all four legs and is in position to touch down on the Martian surface. Once it’s fully ready, @NASAPersevere will release it gently to the surface. https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/K3fqt2X2q3
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) March 31, 2021
Swing low, sweet helicopter…@NASAPersevere is slowly and carefully deploying the #MarsHelicopter, Ingenuity. The tech demo is currently unfolding from its stowed position and readying to safely touch down on the Martian surface. See upcoming milestones: https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/3AyaiHOH2k
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) March 30, 2021
“It [the helicopter] is stowed sideways, folded up and locked in place, so there’s some reverse origami to do before I can set it down. First though, I’ll be off to the designated ‘helipad,’ a couple days’ drive from here,” the Perseverance rover team tweeted.
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 30, 2021
The helicopter is expected to take flight on 8 April this year.