NASA’s Perseverance rover has just come across something extraordinary on its travels on Mars. Something never found before by a robotic Mars citizen: its own parachute.
Perseverance has been exploring Mars's Jezero Crater for over a year searching for interesting rock formations to drill into and collect samples of to return home. Recently, it has been retracing its steps to reach the region it was designed to study, the ancient river delta that billions of years ago brought water into the crater.
In this trek towards the delta, Perseverance has been doing a lot of autonomous driving (without human help). It has passed near familiar sites and even caused a little fender bender (the first one beyond Earth). It has now spotted the parachute that slowed down its descent onto the Red Planet.
The 'chute was first spotted by a keen-eyed engineer in raw images that were taken on April 6.
It has now been verified by NASA.
The images that confirmed the parachute were processed by engineer and Martian photographer Kevin M Gill and were taken on Sol 403 and 404 (a sol is a Martian day) of Perseverance's mission on Mars.
When it was deployed, the parachute had many people very excited. Hidden in its red and white pattern was a secret message. Internet sleuths decoded the message as “Dare mighty things”. The phrase is used as a motto by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managing the Mars rover mission, and is emblazoned on the walls of the mission control room at the facility.
Here is the rover – or the Twitter personification of it – declaring it on February 19, 2021, the day after landing on Mars.
Perseverance, which recently broke the Mars rover distance record, has certainly dared mighty things and is now traveling to its delta destination.