NASA’s Curiosity rover has treated us to some incredible selfies over its many years of service. Now that Perseverance is also on Mars, NASA is doubling up on cute self-portraits from rovers. And they have decided to go strong on this latest one, capturing Percy with the Martian helicopter itself, Ingenuity.
In the double selfie, Perseverance is first looking at Ingenuity and then turns its "head" to stare at the camera. And, yes, we know we shouldn’t anthropomorphize the robotic explorers in the Solar System but it really looks like a proud older sibling type waiting for its little buddy to take flight. All things going well, the historic flight – the first powered flight on another planet – will take place this Sunday, April 11.
The fantastic image was created by stitching together 62 individual images collected by the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera attached to the rover’s robotic arm. WATSON is part of its SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument. We can’t help commend the nerdy people at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for these excellent backronyms. These instruments will help us find more clues to the biggest question: is there, or was there ever, life on Mars?
Perseverance has lofty goals for its mission, but one of those is to inspire interest and curiosity about exploring the places beyond Earth in those of us still on our planet. If sending back "wish you were here" selfies is what it takes, we're all for it.