Like a friend telling the group chat they’ve safely arrived at their vacation destination, NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a selfie Tuesday next to the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars.
The selfie was shared in GIF form on Wednesday, a two-frame animation in which Perseverance’s mast camera (aka its head) is looking at the camera and back at Ingenuity. Ingenuity was attached to Perseverance’s underside during the 293-million-mile journey from Earth and successfully deployed onto the Martian surface Saturday.
The selfie was captured using a camera on Perseverance’s extendable arm called WATSON. That’s short for Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering, and it’s attached to the SHERLOC instrument in a nod to the famous fictional detective duo. While WATSON wasn’t exactly designed for selfies, it worked out great here.
Unlike selfies we take with our phones, this was a little more tricky to create. The picture is a composite of 62 images taken with WATSON that have been stitched together. It’s a process very similar to the selfie from NASA’s Curiosity rover in 2018.
The Ingenuity helicopter behind Perseverance is testing out its systems before it makes its first flight attempt on Mars in April. Meanwhile, Perseverance is driving out of the way for its own safety.
As Ingenuity performs its tests and Perseverance explores the Jezero Crater, a stretch of Mars that was once home to a river delta, expect more images documenting this interplanetary adventure.