Pic of the Week: The Helicopter’s Shadow

Image (Credit): Shadow of the Ingenuity Helicopter on Mar’s surface. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

This week’s image, and the related animated gif, are from the navigation camera aboard NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 25th flight on April 18, 2022 over the surface of Mars. Here is a little more information from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL):

The first frame of the clip shows the view about one second into the flight. After reaching an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters), the helicopter heads southwest, accelerating to its maximum speed in less than three seconds. Ingenuity first flies over a group of sand ripples then, about halfway through the video, several rock fields. Finally, relatively flat and featureless terrain appears below, making a good landing spot. The video of the 161.3-second flight was speeded up approximately five times, reducing it to less than 35 seconds.

Ingenuity’s navigation camera has been programmed to deactivate whenever the rotorcraft is within 3 feet (1 meter) of the surface. This helps ensure any dust kicked up during takeoff and landing won’t interfere with the navigation system as it tracks features on the ground.