NASA’s Perseverance rover took 62 images for its iconic selfie with Ingenuity

In April, NASA’s Ingenuity rover captured the world’s imagination when it returned a epic selfie he took with Ingenuity on the surface of Mars. Turns out taking that photo wasn’t as easy as Perseverance posing, taking a single photo and calling it a day. According to a new NASA video released on Friday, what we were able to see here on Earth was the result of 62 separate images that the agency put together.

As NASA puts it, the process was complicated and time consuming. It involved a dozen experts, including various engineers, to put it all together, and about a week to trace all the orders they had to send to Perseverance for the final blow to happen. The reason it took 62 frames to produce the final photo is because NASA used Perseverance’s WATSON camera for the composition. The instrument was primarily designed to take close-up images of rocks, not expansive wide-angle shots. Since WATSON is mounted on the robotic arm of Perseverance, NASA also had to ensure that the appendix did not hit the rover when positioning the camera.

To this end, NASA engineers developed software that allowed them to simulate every arm movement so they could get it as close to the rover as possible without damaging it. They also performed simulations to determine how position ingenuity in the composition. “The thing that got the most attention was putting Ingenuity in the right place in the selfie,” said Mike Ravine of Malin Space Science System (MSSS), who built the camera used by NASA to capture the selfie. . “Considering its small size, I think we did a really good job.”

Once NASA had all the images it needed for the selfie, MSSS engineers cleaned up each individual to remove imperfections left by the dust that had settled on WATSON’s light detector. They then stitched them together into a mosaic before cropping and distorting that image into one we all know and love today.

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