NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter captures its first aerial colour image of Mars


NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has taken the first-ever colour image of the Martian surface by an aerial vehicle. It used its onboard colour camera during the second successful flight test on 22 April. At the time of capturing the image, the Ingenuity chopper was more than 5.2 meters (17 feet) above the surface. It was moving its camera’s field of view upward so that it could begin its two-meter (7-foot) translation to the west, away from the rover explained NASA


The image taken is a closeup of the tracks of the Perseverance Mars rover and Mars surface features. This shows how useful it is to scout the Martian land from an aerial viewpoint. The Ingenuity’s high-resolution colour camera contains a 4208-by-3120-pixel sensor which is mounted in the helicopter’s fuselage and is pointed approximately 22 degrees below the horizon.

Close-up view of the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Close-up view of the first colour image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

According to NASA, the winding parallel discolourations on the surface of Mars reveal the tread of the six-wheeled rover.

NASA broke down what we can see in the image. While it may seem unremarkable at first, a close look will show the tread marks of the Perseverance rover. The ‘Wright Brothers Field’ is in the vicinity of the helicopter’s shadow with the actual takeoff point just below the image. The helicopter has four legs and a portion of two of its landing pads can be seen in the image (left and right sides of the image). One can also see a small portion of the horizon at the upper (right and left corners).


The Mars Helicopter Ingenuity’s main aim is to test powered flight on another planet. It took its ride to Mars on the Perseverance rover, which made a touch down on the Red Planet on 18 February.

About the Ingenuity Helicopter

The chopper was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. This whole mission is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. The Mars Helicopter Delivery System was designed and manufactured by the renowned and trusted Lockheed Space Systems, Denver.