NASA’s Mars helicopter: what ‘otherworldly’ wreckage did Ingenuity find on Red Planet - images and reaction

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Nasa’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity finds rover wreckage on Red Planet with ‘sci-fi element’

Nasa’s Ingenuity helicopter has discovered “otherworldly” images on Mars.

The images have been shared worldwide, with many people commenting on the “sci-fi element” to it.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the wreckage and what Nasa has said.

What wreckage did the Nasa Mars helicopter find?

Nasa Mars Helicopter discovers ‘Otherworldly’ wreckage from Perseverance roverNasa Mars Helicopter discovers ‘Otherworldly’ wreckage from Perseverance rover
Nasa Mars Helicopter discovers ‘Otherworldly’ wreckage from Perseverance rover | NASA/JPL-Caltech

Nasa’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity discovered the wreckage during an aerial survey of a section of Mars.

The cone-shaped wreckage is believed to be the backshell which protected Nasa’s Mars Perseverance rover during its Mars landing back in February 2021.

The rover had the best recorded landing on Mars in history, taking seven months to reach the planet, its journey was broadcast around the world.

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Landing on the Red Planet is challenging, with extreme gravitational factors, high temperatures and pressure changes to take into account.

What has the reaction been to the Mars wreckage?

Scientists say the new images discovered by the Mars helicopter give them more detail and “a different vantage point”.

Ian Clark who worked on the Perseverance’s parachute system said: “If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.”

The aerial images suggest that the Perserverance’s protective shell has remained intact, even through the shuttle’s entry into Mars’ atmosphere.

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Nasa said: “Many of the 80 high-strength suspension lines connecting the backshell to the parachute are visible and also appear intact.”

Many people have spoken about the “otherworldly” element of the discovery, with Clark speaking to the New York Times saying: “There’s definitely a sci-fi element to it. It exudes otherworldly, doesn’t it?”

How many missions to Mars have there been?

Earth has been launching missions to Mars since the 1960s, with Nasa’s first successful flyby of the planet taking place in 1965.

Since then many countries have sent missions to Mars including Russia, India and the United Arab Emirates.

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In total there have been 50 missions to Mars so far, with around half of these being unsuccessful.

The next planned missions to Mars will take place in the 2020s and 2030s - carried out by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to collect samples of the Red Planet.

Image of Mars taken in 2008 which shows The Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on MarsImage of Mars taken in 2008 which shows The Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on Mars
Image of Mars taken in 2008 which shows The Echus Chasma, one of the largest water source regions on Mars | Getty Images

Will humans ever go to Mars?

Although humans have not yet been able to step foot on Mars, there is hope that this will become a reality in the 2030s.

The Red Planet is located 35 million miles away from Earth and travelling there can take up to 26 months.

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However no 26 months are the same, with Mars’ conditions offering a 15-year window to effectively make the descent.

The proposed next window is set to be 2033, but it’s not known if the technology will be perfected by then.

Nasa is currently holding year long simulated missions to Mars. The CHAPEA mission will see prospective astronauts try their hand at living in a Mars simulation for 12 months and actively recruits new candidates every year.

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