Ingenuity's First Flight Recorded by Mastcam-Z
This image was taken after the first flight of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter — and the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. It was captured by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover, on April 19, 2021.
Flying in a controlled manner on Mars is far more difficult than flying on Earth. The Red Planet has significant gravity (about one-third that of Earth's), but its atmosphere is just 1&percnt as dense as Earth's at the surface.
Stitched together from multiple images, the mosaic is not white balanced; instead, it is displayed in a preliminary calibrated version of a natural color composite, approximately simulating the colors of the scene that we would see if we were there viewing it ourselves.
Arizona State University in Tempe leads the operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.