NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Captures 3D Surveillance Imagery on 10th Successful Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Captures 3D Imagery on 10th Successful Flight
This 3D view of geologic feature the Mars Perseverance rover team calls “Raised Ridges” was generated from data collected by Ingenuity during its 10th flight at Mars, on July 24, 2021. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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.”

The Return to Earth camera on NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter snapped this picture of geologic feature the Mars Perseverance rover team calls “Raised Ridges” during its 10th flight at Mars, on July 24, 2021. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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.”

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 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.” 

 

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this image of tracks made by the Perseverance rover during its ninth flight, on July 5, 2021. A portion of the helicopter’s landing gear can be seen at top left. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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

This annotated image of Mars’ Jezero Crater depicts the ground track and waypoints for Ingenuity’s planned tenth flight that took place on July 24, 2021. The image was generated using terrain imaged by the HiRISE camera aboard the agency’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The goal of flight 10 was to obtain stereo imagery of some geologic features of interest to the Perseverance rover science team. The pale-blue dots indicate mission waypoints. The first and last waypoints provide takeoff and landing locations. Waypoints 2 – 9 indicate where Ingenuity color RTE camera will take pictures that could be made into stereo images. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

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.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

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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This mosaic shows NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter imaged by the Perseverance Mars rover on Sol 114, June 15, 2021 with dramatic Jezero Crater backdrop on Mars. This Sol 114 mosaic is comprised of three left Mastcam-Z left color raw images taken on June 15, 2021 and was stitched by Ken Kremer for Space UpClose. The images were captured after Flight 7 on Sol 107 (June 8, 2021) and prior to Flight 8 on Sol 120. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer/Space UpClose

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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. 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. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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