‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot’: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover snaps amazing new selfies

  • NASA’s Perseverance rover uses its robotic arm to take selfies on Mars.
  • The rover recently captured an image of his body in an image alongside the Ingenuity helicopter.
  • Another selfie shows his 23-pound SuperCam, firing a laser at a Martian rock for study.

NASA’s Perseverance and Endurance helicopter cruises are having some fun on Mars before the highly anticipated first lift of the rotorcraft.

That flight, which could pioneer a new approach to exploring the planet, is expected to take place early Monday morning, around 3:30 am ET. So before clearing the area, Perseverance co-starred in a selfie with the small helicopter.

The selfie is actually a mosaic of 62 individual images taken on Tuesday. Civic scientist Seán Doran stitched the pictures together and adjusted the brightness to create a composite compound.

'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot': NASA's Perseverance Mars rover snaps amazing new selfies
Persistence stares back at the Ingenuity helicopter.NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / Seán Doran

Perseverance also captured a single shot – this time a single image – on Tuesday that offers a close-up view of the remote sensing mast at the end of its robotic arm (the part that acts as a selfie stick).

NASA captioned that photo shamelessly “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot,” reference to James Joyce’s novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

The roving arm of the rover is perfect for self-taking

Persistence includes 23 cameras. Some help the rovers navigate the Martian land, spotting potential dangers such as large rocks or ditches. Others allow human operators on Earth to check that the stray parts are in good shape.

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The rover’s two newest selfies were taken by WATSON, a wide-angle detector that conveys the texture and structure of Martian rock in great detail. As it is attached to Perseverance’s robotic arm, the camera can rotate to capture images of the rover itself.

'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot': NASA's Perseverance Mars rover snaps amazing new selfies
Perseverance rotates its robotic arm.NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot” also showcases the roving 23lbs SuperCam, which can fire laser in areas less than 1 millimeter more than 20 feet (about 7 meters) away. The heat from the laser turns the rock into plasma, which researchers can then analyze to learn more about Mars’ composition. Just below the SuperCam is a pair of rectangular cameras called Mastcam-Z. Their powerful zoom lenses can record video and snap three-dimensional and color images.

'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot': NASA's Perseverance Mars rover snaps amazing new selfies
The remote sensing mast at the end of the robotic arm of the rover.NASA / JPL-Caltech

Mission to uncover ancient life on Mars

Persistence touched down on Mars in February and carried Ingenuity in its belly. The helicopter separated completely from its host on Saturday and is now located about 13 feet (almost 4 meters) away from the rover. Both are in an ancient lake bed called Jezero Crater.

The location is ideal for hunting alien fossils: NASA scientists suspect that if fossil microbes existed on Mars, they could be trapped in clay mineral deposits along the bottom of the dry crater lake, shorelines, and river delta. The mission of perseverance is to explore and collect rocks to see if that is the case.

Meanwhile, ingenuity is a demonstration of technology: The 4-pound helicopter – roughly the size of a tissue box – will attempt up to five flights, each harder than the last.

The first flight will test whether Ingenuity can successfully get a few feet off the ground, hover for about 30 seconds, then touch back down. If all goes well, the final flight could carry the helicopter over 980 feet (300 meters) from Martian land.

'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bot': NASA's Perseverance Mars rover snaps amazing new selfies
Ingenuity extends vertically into place after being rotated out of its horizontal position on March 29.NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

To be successful, invention must fly in the thin atmosphere of Mars and survive frigid temperatures for 30 Martian days (about one month on Earth). Nighttime temperatures on Mars may plummet as low as Fahrenheit negative-130 degrees.

So far, the helicopter has made it nearly a week since it crashed into the Martian surface. Now ingenuity must finish testing its sensors and motors before it is ready to fly.Morgan McFall-Johnsen contributed the reports.

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