December 5, 2021

See Ingenuity on the surface of Mars in NASA’s new 3D photo drop

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has completed yet another successful flight on Mars.

On Friday, NASA operations lead Teddy Tzanetos shared details of the Ingenuity’s eighth flight across Mars’ surface via his team’s official status blog. The four-pound helicopter, which arrived attached to the Perseverance rover in mid-February, traveled 525 feet on June 21 — flying south-southeast for just under 78 seconds, and moving roughly 440 feet away from the rover.

“This marks the third flight in the Operations Demonstration Phase of Ingenuity, in which the team will continue to push the flight envelope of the aircraft while learning valuable operational lessons,” explained Tzanetos. He added that a recent software upgrade to the helicopter had proven successful during the flight. “Up next for the Ingenuity team is to tackle the only remaining flight software update, which will update a large portion of the Ingenuity’s navigation-computer software.”

To commemorate the occasion, NASA also released a new 3D photo of Ingenuity on Mars’ surface — taken by two cameras aboard the Perseverance on June 6, between Ingenuity’s sixth and seventh flights. You can view the image below, and, if you’re so inclined, even enjoy it with those classic, red and blue movie theater glasses.

(NASA has instructions on how to DIY your own 3D glasses here, but you will need colored cellophane to complete the project.)

Ingenuity as captured by cameras aboard NASA's Perseverance rover on June 6.

Ingenuity as captured by cameras aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover on June 6.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA has been releasing 3D images of Mars for years now, creating a rich catalogue of scenes from the Red Planet dating back to 2012. The images serve to not only satiate our earthbound curiosity about Mars, but to also provide invaluable data for NASA researchers.

The Ingenuity itself is equipped with high-resolution cameras, but has not taken any photographs since Flight 6 on May 23 due to a suspected technical issues. It is expected to attempt more photos on its next flight, which isn’t yet publicly scheduled.