Mars helicopter shares first aerial color photo and preps for Sunday flight

MiMi Aung, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Labratory, says Ingenuity's successful flight will 'add to the space exploration tool kit.'

Posted: Apr 23, 2021 8:46 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2021 8:47 AM


So this is what the view looks like when flying on Mars.

The Ingenuity helicopter captured its first color image from 17 feet (5.2 meters) above the Martian surface during its second flight on April 22. And now, it's preparing for a third flight, scheduled for Sunday.

Ingenuity autonomously flew for almost 52 seconds during its second flight, climbing 16 feet (4.9 meters) up through the Martian atmosphere. After a brief hover, it tilted at a 5-degree angle and moved sideways for 7 feet (2.1 meters).

The helicopter hovered in place again to make three turns. This allowed Ingenuity's color camera to capture images taken looking in different directions, before the chopper touched back down in the center of the airfield. Ingenuity only collected black-and-white images with its navigation camera during the first flight on April 19.

The color image, shared on Friday by NASA, is the first taken by an aerial vehicle while aloft on Mars. On either side of the image, landings pads from two of the helicopter's four legs can be seen.

The helicopter's shadow on the surface of Mars can be seen at the bottom of the image.

The view from the helicopter's perspective reveals tracks made by the Perseverance rover when it initially had deposited the helicopter in the middle of its 33-foot-by-33-foot (10-meter-by-10-meter) airfield, now known as Wright Brothers Field.

There is also a glimpse of the Martian horizon in the upper-right and left corners of the photo.

The helicopter team believes this image helps demonstrate the unique aerial scouting ability of Ingenuity and other rotorcraft that could be modeled after it in the future.

Sunday's flight

Ingenuity isn't wasting any time, and the 4-pound helicopter is scheduled to fly again on Sunday morning. Data and imagery will begin streaming into the control room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, at 10:16 a.m. ET.

Each flight is a little more challenging than the next. For Sunday's flight, the helicopter will climb to the same altitude -- about 16 feet (5 meters) above the Martian surface -- but this time it will increase its speed.

During previous flights, Ingenuity was moving at about 1.1 miles per hour (0.5 meters per second). Now, the chopper is going to boost that speed to 4.5 miles per hour (2 meters per second).

The chopper will also fly 164 feet (50 meters) north before returning to touch down at its landing site.

The mission team is planning for a total flight time of 80 seconds, the longest yet, and a total distance of about 330 feet (100 meters).

"While that number may not seem like a lot, consider that we never moved laterally more than about two-pencil lengths when we flight-tested in the vacuum chamber here on Earth," wrote Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars helicopter chief pilot at JPL, in an update.

"And while the 4 meters of lateral movement in Flight Two (2 meters out and then 2 meters back) was great, providing lots of terrific data, it was still only 4 meters. As such, Flight Three is a big step, one in which Ingenuity will begin to experience freedom in the sky."

Ingenuity, a technology demonstration, still has another week to conduct two more flights before the 31-day mission comes to an end.

"Even though we are conducting our flight tests in a tenuous atmosphere over 180 million miles (290 million kilometers) from Earth, we model our methodical approach to experimental flight on the Wright brothers' approach," Grip wrote. "Our plan from Day One has been to prepare like crazy, fly, analyze the data (like crazy), and then plan for an even bolder test in the next flight."

Check back here on Sunday for updates on the Mars Ingenuity helicopter's historic third flight.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108902

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287491467
Cuyahoga1158082211
Hamilton814091250
Montgomery525571043
Summit484351001
Lucas43359820
Butler39018606
Stark33338929
Lorain25675505
Warren24595303
Mahoning22376603
Lake21211388
Clermont20124253
Delaware18856136
Licking16663222
Fairfield16576204
Trumbull16551482
Medina15612271
Greene15284248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11914239
Richland11607211
Miami10849225
Wayne9146223
Columbiana9034230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8650250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7161179
Hancock6999132
Ross6945161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584649
Lawrence5732102
Jefferson5679158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5320109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4572112
Madison444366
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
Crawford4040110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3856105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359865
Williams348278
Champaign344859
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275365
Henry273467
Holmes2702101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 69°
Angola
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: °
Huntington
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Van Wert
Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 73°
Calm and cool conditions are expected across the Midwest through the middle of the work week.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events