The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rover Perseverance, which has been conducting exploration activities on Mars for two years, recently captured the appearance of floating dawn clouds on the red planet.
The new cloud image recently released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was taken with one of the rover’s navigation cameras just before sunrise on Mars on the 18th. This day was the 738th Sol (SOL, 24 hours and 37 minutes) since Perseverance arrived on the surface of Mars.
According to NASA, most of the Martian clouds lie within 60 kilometers of the ground. Clouds like these provide information about intermediate atmospheric conditions on Mars at altitudes of about 50 to 80 km. Clouds also help scientists understand Mars’ weather. Knowing when and where clouds form can provide a variety of information, including the composition of the atmosphere on Mars, temperature, and wind.
Perseverance arrived at a new location named ‘Berea’ on the 23rd. Perseverance’s official Twitter account said, “After moving quite a bit lately, I’m in a new place. I plan to investigate some interesting rocks here in more detail.”
Meanwhile, the exploration helicopter ‘Ingenuity’, which arrived on Mars on February 18, 2021 with Perseverance, recently succeeded in its 48th flight.
According to NASA, Ingenuity moved a horizontal distance of about 400m on the 21st at a maximum speed of 16.7km/h. The maximum flight altitude was 12 m, and the time required was about 150 seconds. The small helicopter served as a preliminary observation of potential targets to be studied by the exploration partner Perseverance Rover.
In April 2021, Ingenuity, which wrote the history of mankind’s first successful powered flight from an extraterrestrial planet, was originally scheduled to fly only five times in 30 days. However, until now, it has endured for almost two years and is preparing for its 50th flight.
NASA said that Ingenuity has traveled a cumulative 11,000m on Mars so far, recorded a maximum altitude of 14m and a maximum speed of about 21.6km/h. The cumulative flight time is about 84 minutes.
JPL previously described Ingenuity as “a perfect example of the usefulness of a flight platform on Mars”, saying, “Every flight brings a new perspective never seen before.”
Meanwhile, Ingenuity is designed to be light but strong enough to withstand the harsh conditions of Mars. Ingenuity weighs just 1.8 kg. However, no matter how light it is, it is not easy to fly on Mars, where the density of the atmosphere is only 1% of that of Earth.
Ingenuity’s wings rotate at 2,400 revolutions per minute to allow it to rise even in this Martian atmosphere. It is to overcome the low atmospheric density by turning the wings quickly. This rotational speed is several times that of a helicopter carrying people on Earth.
Reporter Yang Min-ha ([email protected])