Mars Helicopter's Solar Array as Seen by Perseverance's Mastcam-Z
The solar panel of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter's solar panel as seen by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. Roughly 6.5 by 17 inches (425 mm by 165 mm), the panel charges six lithium-ion batteries inside the helicopter.
The small amount of dust on the panel may have accumulated above the helicopter during landing and fallen onto it during helicopter deployment. This dust has had no adverse impact on the helicopter's power. Solar cells in the array are optimized for the solar spectrum encountered at Mars, and the stored energy is used to operate heaters for the cold Martian nights as well as power the helicopter during flight operations. Power expended by the helicopter during an up-to-90-second flight is about 350 watts.
The image is not white balanced; instead it is displayed in a preliminary calibrated version of a natural-color composite, approximately simulating the colors of the scene that we would see if we were there viewing it ourselves.
Arizona State University in Tempe leads the operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.