First Aerial Color Image of Mars


Apr 23, 2021

Image of trails on Mars

This is the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its color camera during its second successful flight test on April 22, 2021. At the time this image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2 meters) above the surface and pitching (moving the camera’s field of view upward) so the helicopter could begin its 7-foot (2-meter) translation to the west – away from the rover. The image, as well as the inset showing a closeup of a portion of the tracks the Perseverance Mars rover and Mars surface features, demonstrates the utility of scouting Martian terrain from an aerial perspective.

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

The winding parallel discolorations in the surface reveal the tread of the six-wheeled rover. Perseverance itself is located top center, just out frame. “Wright Brothers Field” is in the vicinity of the helicopter’s shadow, bottom center, with the actual point of takeoff of the helicopter just below the image. 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 color camera contains a 4208-by-3120-pixel sensor.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development.  AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, Snapdragon, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. The Mars Helicopter Delivery System was designed and manufactured by Lockheed Space Systems, Denver.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Last Updated: Apr 23, 2021 Editor: Tony Greicius

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April 25, 2021 2:10 am

I can clearly see footprints in the sand. I think the Yeti got to mars first


Ron Long
Reply to  tonyb
April 25, 2021 3:02 am

You must be a “True Believer”. Myself, I’m waiting for Jimmy Hoffa to show up.

pHil R
Reply to  Ron Long
April 25, 2021 7:09 am

He’s got to break out from under all that concrete first.

Reply to  pHil R
April 25, 2021 12:51 pm

Unlike Lord Lucan.
Or Shergar – the Wonder Horse!


Patrick MJD
Reply to  Ron Long
April 26, 2021 12:29 am

Elvis will be there first.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  tonyb
April 25, 2021 5:27 am

I am looking forward to Gershom stepping into the picture, into view. An Old One.

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  tonyb
April 25, 2021 8:05 am

I see the famous Martian canals! They appear to be filled in now, but the lines are clear.
I have a book on Mars written in 1956 in which there is a detailed map of Mars, showing all of the known canals, with all of the names given to them. It’s part of the reason I don’t have blind faith in scientists.

Reply to  tonyb
April 26, 2021 5:28 am

Footprints on the sands of time?

Reply to  tonyb
April 27, 2021 2:46 pm

Must be the same ones visiting that old Heineken stand.

April 25, 2021 2:35 am

Even achievements like this draw the ire of the green fraternity

All the more reason to continue exploration

Burl Henry
April 25, 2021 4:13 am

What are the faint, roughly horizontal, darker paths? Scouring by dust devils?.

Reply to  Burl Henry
April 25, 2021 5:40 am

Tracks from the Martians’ motorcycles.

Alan Robertson
April 25, 2021 4:57 am

Those kids at NASA are having some fun with their new toy.

April 25, 2021 5:32 am

Baby steps.

April 25, 2021 5:39 am

How many of OUR tax dollars for that?
Sepia toning a B&W image would have been cheaper.

Peta of Newark
April 25, 2021 5:51 am

If you didn’t already know, who would say whether this picture or the NASA one was Mars

The picture in my link was taken in the field at the end of my garden, completely untouched didgitally, just over one week ago today

Here’s another, also untouched digitickly-tatally, a higher and wider angle of the same field at sunrise 3 days earlier.
Note how toasty and warm it is.
See the renewable energy throbbing along the wonky 11kV 3 phase line?
All the poles holding that line are leaning over – leaning into the field and not the concrete lane behind the hedge.
why would that be then…..

(I know I know, too much electrickery in the wires, ever heard of E=MC squared)

I’d assert that that should scare the shit out of A Lot of people because what’s in my 2 pics is infinitely## more concerning than an extra bit of CO2 up in the sky.

Although, yes and no to that.
The tracks visible in my pic would not simply not be there, no matter how heavy the machine that passed by, if the CO2 in the atmosphere was where it was and should properly be.
In the dirt

Hence possibly why they went to Mars?
Do they know that though, how long for the The Penny to drop, if ever.

## Not ‘infinitely’ more, about 7.5 Billion (and counting) times more worrying.

Last edited 18 days ago by Peta of Newark
Alan M
April 25, 2021 6:09 am

Those tracks look just like the old Toyota tracks we left 20 yrs ago about 200 km east of Kalgoorlie

April 25, 2021 7:23 am

An achievement, eager to see when it goes higher. Thanks

Steve Oregon
April 25, 2021 7:27 am

Darn it anyways. I see signs of systemic racism.

April 25, 2021 8:27 am

So that’s what a planet looks like with no gasoline or diesel cars eh?

Andre Lauzon
Reply to  observa
April 25, 2021 8:37 am

It was like earth till the greenies took over.

Reply to  Andre Lauzon
April 25, 2021 3:38 pm

The greenies were the virus there to … and they exterminated themselves, but too late to save Mars.

April 25, 2021 8:59 am

An amazing technical achievement ….but I expect Greenpeace will come out with a complaint about Man littering another planet…and beginning to mess with its atmosphere….and adding heat to the environment.

Tom Abbott
April 25, 2021 9:55 am

This helicopter is a good step forward.

And NASA managed to produce a little bit of oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars, too, with an experiment included on the Rover.

I think we are slowly getting there. The activity in space is picking up.

Humans are getting closer to breaking out.

Massimo PORZIO
April 25, 2021 10:05 am

Ok, the Ingenuity’s shadow at the bottom is very well defined despite the distance between the shadow and the helicopter, because of the low atmospheric density which implies little or no light diffusion.

But I have a question: where were the sun rays coming from?

Looking at the helicopter’s shadow they should shine from behind its camera view.
But looking at the stones on the left that have their shadows on their right, the sun rays look as they were coming from the left.
While looking to the stones on the right that have their shadow on their left, the sun rays look as they were coming from the right instead.
And finally the stones on the far upper right looks as they had the sun rays coming from right-ahead.

I’m surely missing something that I don’t know.

Reply to  Massimo PORZIO
April 25, 2021 10:59 am

This missing bit is a very wide angle of view which is distorting things.

Massimo PORZIO
Reply to  sadbutmadlad
April 26, 2021 12:10 am

No, it’s not that missing bit that you suppose, since wide angle distortions can’t swap the details position. Those left side stones have the shadows on their right while those right side stones have the shadows on their left.

I also hypothesized that it could be because of the helicopter blades that during the takeoff removed the sand below the stones only in the direction facing the chopper, but this seems not plausible since the rover traces are still there, so the blades blowing has not moved so much sand.

Last edited 17 days ago by Massimo PORZIO
April 25, 2021 10:18 am

Notice Perseverance drove around rather than over a small sand dune. Was that on-board AI or direction from head office ?

April 25, 2021 11:03 am

They should have spent more time scouting landing sites. Are they saying there is not one hot spring deposit on the whole planet?

April 25, 2021 4:01 pm

Were the tracts made by the giant carnivorous space worms seen in the movie “Tremors”?

April 25, 2021 9:21 pm

NASA does some pretty cool stuff as long as they can stay off the AGW meds. Looking forward to more images.

April 26, 2021 11:22 am

I guess this is a good start on exploring another planet. But the primitiveness of the effort is revealed by the shape of the vehicle. Everybody knows that civilizations that know what they are doing design their inter-planetary and inter-stellar spacecraft in the form of saucers.

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