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NASA Ingenuity Helicopter Takes a Closer Look at Intriguing Rocky Outcrop

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter and its robotic partner Perseverance are now ready to start exploring the ancient river delta in the Jezero Crater on Mars. The two will work together to investigate different features of the region and search for signs of ancient microbial life.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicoper snapped some images of a ridgeline near the ancient river delta 6 photos
Perseverance is getting closer to the ancient river delta on MarsPerseverance is getting closer to the ancient river delta on MarsPerseverance is getting closer to the ancient river delta on MarsPerseverance is getting closer to the ancient river delta on MarsPerseverance is getting closer to the ancient river delta on Mars
During its 27th flight, Ingenuity spotted an intriguing ridgeline near the delta. The team behind Perseverance wanted to get a better look at the ridgeline’s rocky outcrop since the rover might never get the chance to explore the spot.

Perseverance has observed the ridgeline before, but the images sent back show that the rover was further away. The shots taken by the helicopter from above offer a different perspective and allow scientists to decide which path and which areas Perseverance should investigate next.

"Ingenuity not only provides imagery from an aerial perspective, but allows our team to be two places at once on Mars," said Ken Farley of Caltech, Perseverance's project scientist. "Sending the rover to survey and prospect in one location while launching the helicopter to survey another hundreds of meters away is a great time-saver. It can also help us explore areas the rover will never visit, as in this case."

The ridgeline, nicknamed by scientists "Fortun Ridge," is an important feature of Jezero Crater because it seems to mark the boundary between two main rock units on the crater floor, known as Séítah and Máaz. Both units are thought to be of volcanic origin. Unlike on Earth, where the movement of the tectonic plates produces tilting, previous images indicate that tilted rock layers are not common in this region on Mars.

The research team will also be able to compare the photos acquired by Ingenuity during its recent flight to data taken by both robotic partners of another ridgeline named Artuby, located south in the Séítah area. By comparing Ingenuity's images of the two ridgelines, scientists will be able to learn more about Jezero's history.

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