NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has captured the first colour image of the Martian surface. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its colour camera during its second successful flight test on April 22, the US space agency said in a statement. While capturing the image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2-metre) above the surface and pitching (moving the camera’s field of view upward) so the helicopter could begin its 7-foot (2-metre) translation to the west - away from the rover. The image shows a closeup of a portion of the tracks the Perseverance Mars rover and Mars surface features, demonstrating the utility of scouting Martian terrain from an aerial perspective.
The winding parallel discolourations in the surface reveal the tread of the six-wheeled rover. The ‘Wright Brothers Field’ is in the vicinity of the helicopter’s shadow, bottom centre, with the actual point of takeoff of the helicopter just below the image.
Data expected later Sunday. Til then, peep this shot of rover tracks from the 2nd flight. pic.twitter.com/0qjtWC3jCz
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 23, 2021
A portion of the landing pads on two of the helicopter’s four landing legs can be seen in 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-degree below the horizon, Ingenuity’s high-resolution colour camera contains a 4208-by-3120-pixel sensor.
The Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, is a technology demonstration to test powered flight on another world for the first time. It hitched a ride to Mars on the Perseverance rover, which made a February 18 touch down on the Red Planet.
NASA had also collaborated with Australian pop star Sia ahead of Ingenuity’s first test flight. The singer released a music video for her song titled, Floating Through Space that had been written and performed to celebrate the upcoming test flight. The music video came out on April 7, and featured video clips of how Ingenuity started its journey on Earth through various tests, experiments and modifications by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.