NASA Releases First Aerial Color Image of Mars Captured by the Ingenuity Helicopter

First Aerial Color Image of Mars

First color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its color camera during its second successful flight test on April 22, 2021. At the time of this image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2 meters) above the surface and pitching (moving the camera’s field of view upward) so the helicopter could begin its 7-foot (2-meter) translation to the west – away from the rover. The image, as well as the inset showing a closeup of a portion of the tracks the Perseverance Mars rover and Mars surface features, demonstrates the utility of scouting Martian terrain from an aerial perspective.

The winding parallel discolorations in the surface reveal the tread of the six-wheeled rover. Perseverance itself is located top center, just out of frame. “Wright Brothers Field” is in the vicinity of the helicopter’s shadow, bottom center, with the actual point of takeoff of the helicopter just below the image. A portion of the landing pads on two of the helicopter’s four landing legs can be seen on the left and right sides of the image, and a small portion of the horizon can be seen at the upper right and left corners.

Mounted in the helicopter’s fuselage and pointed approximately 22 degrees below the horizon, Ingenuity’s high-resolution color camera contains a 4208-by-3120-pixel sensor.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, Snapdragon, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. The Mars Helicopter Delivery System was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Space Systems, Denver.

16 Comments on "NASA Releases First Aerial Color Image of Mars Captured by the Ingenuity Helicopter"

  1. Could Ingenuity be used to ‘scout’ paths for the rover?.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | April 25, 2021 at 2:57 am | Reply

      That’s one of the ideas for upcoming, larger drones.

      At least for now they must have some autonomy as I understand it (for Ingenuity preprogrammed flight paths), since the datalink goes through Perseverance to Earth (or through relay satellites, if they are passing by).

      So it is limited bandwidth, almost an hour delay on humans-in-the-loop decisions. If someone places astronauts on a Mars moon as a first Mars mission, they could certainly make use of pre-placed rovers and drones almost directly (at most a second delay, like controling rovers on the Moon).

  2. I think I see crop circles!!

  3. I still believe there is a red colored filter used for all photos depicting mars. And who is snapping the picture of the helicopter in flight?

  4. Except this is not the first color image taken from the air on Mars.The Perseverance Rover took images and an entire video of its decent to Mars.

  5. What options does the Helicopter have when the storms come?

    • 1) What “storms”? The atmosphere has 1% of the pressure that Earth’s atmosphere has. What kind of storm are you expecting?
      2) You do realize that the copter’s mission is limited in scope, right? It’s not intended to last for months and months.

      • “How a powerful dust storm made Mars ‘disappear’ in 2018”, Smithsonian Magazine, Feb. 4, 2021. Storm enough for ya?
        Rather a scornful reply to Marc’s honest question.

  6. Mitch Swanson | April 25, 2021 at 7:26 am | Reply

    Yes please answer Marcs question “what options does the Helicopter have when the storms come?”
    Voyager was never meant to last this long either, so what if smarty pants? Or do you all just not know? Or don’t want to speculate out of fear of being wrong? Be bold be brave keep it simple, please. We all know about the giant sand storms on Mars.

    • I’m not sure what this one will do, but honestly with all the money that goes into this stuff at this point, we could probably make a drone that collapses in on itself, burrows into the sand and then digs itself back up. Vibrates access sand off(vibrations can also be used to loosen sand that you are burried in quite easily) and takes flight again. If it isn’t made to last very long, they may not have needed to consider this question this time around(Most people who aren’t SapceX don’t consider how reusable things are). It could simply be made of heavy enough and strong enough materials to only need to land to save it’s life. In theory aslo, couldn’t it just fly high enough to practically jump over a sandstorm too? You Could also land it near a Mars cave and just make that home base, or have the container you drop it in be a more perm holding zone for it. Idk, but here are your few brave guesses/ potential solutions for you Mitch. That was fun to think about, thanks.

  7. Awesomeblackdude | April 25, 2021 at 8:20 am | Reply

    How long would be needed to pollute Mars for a sustainable human atmosphere? 😬

  8. Anita Bennett | April 25, 2021 at 8:45 am | Reply

    Wow as a complete novice but just interested in the drone photos etc from Mars which are amazing and wanting to ask honest questions I’m put right off by the sarcastic comments by one individual on here which just required an honest answer to Marc’s question. What’s wrong with people they get behind a keyboard and think they can treat people like this. Amazing stuff from another planet and some people can turn even this into something else. All it needed was simple answer to Marc’s question. Disappointed.

  9. MARCUS KRENTZ | April 25, 2021 at 9:22 am | Reply

    It is all a lie. Just like fake moon landing. NASA’s own scientists admit they haven’t figured out how to get pass the Van Allen belts, and not to mention they cant get past the firmament. It’s all done to discredit God and the truth of the bible. Jesus said let those that have eyes see and those with ears hear. Wake up people, God is real and Jesus is coming soon…

  10. It looks like butterscotch pudding.

  11. I get goosebumps looking at this. It’s a pic from an entirely different planet!!! It’s pretty mind blowing really

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