Time flies when you’re on another planet. NASA’s Perseverance rover and the Mars Ingenuity helicopter have now both been on the Red Planet for a full 100 martian days. For a mission that is expected to last many years that might seem like a drop in the bucket, but the sheer amount of work that Perseverance has done in just 100 days is pretty darn impressive. The first 100 days after the mission landed have been packed with photography, audio capture, and of course the deployment and testing of the plucky little helicopter.
The rover’s successful landing was anything but guaranteed, as is the case with any mission sent into space, but now that it’s safe and sound on the planet’s surface we have a lot to look forward to in the coming years. Much of what the rover has already accomplished can be seen as laying the groundwork for that research, and soon the rover will truly be able to do what it was built to do, which is to hunt for signs of life on Mars and deliver valuable data back to Earth.
As with all rover missions, the moments after landing were extremely exciting. For several days, NASA tested out all of the rover’s high-tech systems and instruments to ensure that they were all in working order and nothing had been damaged during the months-long trip to Mars.
Perseverance sent back its first low-resolution images moments after landing and in the hours that followed it shot many, many more. Over its first 100 days on Mars, Perseverance has captured over 75,000 images and sent them back to Earth. Its photo subjects include the martian landscape, various interesting features, and of course the Ingenuity helicopter.
Ingenuity was deployed to the surface shortly after the rover arrived. It spent the journey to Mars strapped to the rover’s belly and once it was released it had to perform its own set of systems tests. Once those were completed, it began its flight tests, starting with a very safe hover and landing flight and progressing to more advanced maneuvers like traveling horizontally and landing in new locations.
During this time, Perseverance remained in the general vicinity so it could observe the helicopter and send back photos and videos of its flights. It still conducted science and did some observations of rocks and other features of the landscape that were near the makeshift “landing strip” that NASA had assigned for Ingenuity’s test flights.
NASA celebrated the 100-day milestone with a tweet that offers a very brief checklist of everything the rover has done so far. There’s also a pretty neat video (well, gif) included. Check it out!
100 days (sols) on Mars, and feeling productive:
✅ Tested all cameras & instruments
✅ Returned 75,000+ pics
✅ Deployed #MarsHelicopter & captured its flights
✅ Recorded sounds of Mars
✅ Extracted oxygen from atmosphere
✅ Started south to first exploration zone
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) June 1, 2021
The Perseverance mission is expected to go on for years, and if the rover already accomplished all of this in just its first 100 days, we can’t wait to see what it does next.