For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – It’s time to whip out your stereo glasses because NASA’s groundbreaking Ingenuity Helicopter captured its first ever 3D aerial view of Mars while flying above the Red Planet’s surface– and accomplished that during its most complex flight to date on July 24 during its 10th flight overall while functioning as an active aerial scout surveilling future science targets in its recently expanded role supporting the Perseverance rover mothership.
The first of its kind stereo 3D image was created from two shots captured on the 10th flight after taking off from its seventh airfield and climbing to the new record altitude of 40 feet (12 meters), said officials managing the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA.
Ingenuity flew a total distance of 233 meters ( 764 ft) for a duration of 165.4 seconds at a speed of about 11 mph for this 10th flight since the history making 1st flight on April 19 that proved airborne powered flight was possible beyond Earth in the ultra thin atmosphere of the Red Planet.
“The helicopter then made four heading changes and took 10 images with the rotorcraft’s color camera before landing at a new airfield,” according to the JPL team.
See overall flight map below.
“The 3D image was created by combining two of those images, offering the rover team a richer perspective as they plan the next steps in their science campaign.”
Scientists leading the science campaign of the six wheeled Perseverance robot will benefit in unforeseen ways from the Ingenuity 3D imagery since its mission has been very effectively extended to assist the rover by helping find juicy science targets for exploration and possibly even sample drilling collection for return to Earth one day.
“In 3D it almost feels like you can reach out and touch the Raised Ridges,” said Kevin Hand, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and co-lead of the Perseverance rover’s first science campaign.
“But along with its immersive beauty, the image provides great detail. If you look closely, you can see some curious lines across the surfaces of several rocks. Are these just made by eons of wind and dust blowing over the rocks, or might those features tell the story of water? We just don’t know yet.”
The #MarsHelicopter’s images of “Raised Ridges” raise the bar on aerial reconnaissance of the Red Planet. Mars rover scientist Kevin Hand sees great things in the rotorcraft’s latest color snaps – 3D data that'll help the mission determine future drives. https://t.co/xwfrObz2Hi pic.twitter.com/K4T9HYIq7p
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) August 4, 2021
Ingenuity has now flown an awesome distance of 1 mile (1.6 km) across and above Mars over 10 incredible flights spanning 3 months
The #MarsHelicopter’s success today marks its 1-mile total distance flown. It targeted an area called "Raised Ridges." This is the most complex flight yet w/ 10 distinct waypoints and a record height of 40 ft (12 m). Its scouting is aiding @NASAPersevere. https://t.co/tboEcnLvx3 pic.twitter.com/Wc6tDVimIT
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) July 25, 2021
The total time aloft now stands at 1007 seconds (16 minutes, 14 seconds), in ten flights to 7 airfields.
Ingenuity’s unprecedented achievements and contributions will aid the team significantly in their search for signs of ancient life on Mars
“The team is considering drilling a rock or sediment sample in the Raised Ridges, which would take several Martian days, or sols, of driving to reach. With Ingenuity’s images, the rover team now has a much better idea of what to expect if they were to go there and the science value of doing so. In the weeks to come, the science team will pour over this and other 3D images from Ingenuity and debate the merits of such a visit.”
“Since landing at Jezero Crater, it’s clear to all of us that there is an abundance of geologic riches for us to explore. It’s a good problem to have,” said Ken Williford, deputy project scientist for Perseverance at JPL. “These aerial previews from Ingenuity provide the kind of actionable data that allow us to whittle down our options and get on with the business of exploring our corner of Mars.”
As of July 24, Ingenuity has survived 107 sols since deployment from Perseverance – that counts as 76 sols beyond the original technology demonstration mission it was designed for lasting a duration of 30 sols.
Flight 11 is upcoming
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX, ULA, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
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Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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