NASA shares 3D video of Ingenuity helicopter’s third flight

Shane McGlaun - Jun 2, 2021, 7:09am CDT
NASA shares 3D video of Ingenuity helicopter’s third flight

Anyone who’s been following NASA’s Mars missions will be interested to hear that the space agency has shared a new video of the third Ingenuity Mars Helicopter test flight. The third test flight happened on April 25, and the Perseverance rover captured video footage of the flight. NASA says that its engineers have now rendered the flight in 3D, giving it “dramatic depth.”

The video shows the helicopter ascend, hover, and move laterally offscreen before returning for a precision landing. NASA says that watching the video footage in 3D is a bit like standing on the surface of Mars next to the rover and watching the flight firsthand. The dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager shot the video.

The primary purpose of that imager is to provide critical data to help engineers navigate the Martian surface and help scientists choose rocks they want to study closely. A NASA team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stitched the images into a video with the frames re-projected to optimize viewing in an anaglyph. An anaglyph is an image seen in 3D when viewed with color-filtered glasses.

For those who may not have color-filtered glasses, NASA says you can create your own in a few minutes and offers steps to do so here. The helicopter video is the most extensive 3D video yet captured by Mastcam-Z. The flight that happened on April 25th saw the Ingenuity helicopter accomplish several firsts.

Ingenuity climbed to an altitude of 16 feet and then flew downrange for 164 feet. That stood as a record until ingenuity traveled 873 feet on its fourth flight conducted on April 30. Ingenuity had a fifth flight on May 7, completing its first one-way trip traveling a distance of 423 feet. Ingenuity also conducted a sixth flight where it encountered some trouble but was able to land safely.


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