Ingenuity, Close Up

Contributed by Marco Merusi

A historical black and white TV broadcast from July 20th, 1969, shows NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, completely wrapped up in his space suit, jumping around on the bright surface of the Moon. We can’t see the expressions on his face, but it must be a mix of excitement, fear, and fun. One of my favorite pictures of the NASA Perseverance mission is a close-up of the little helicopter Ingenuity, captured by Mastcam-Z on sol 45 (April 6th, 2021), because it reminds me incredibly of Armstrong’s photo. 52 years after the first steps of a human being on the Moon, the human genius (or better… ingenuity) put the four tapered paws of the most sophisticated drone in the Solar System on the fluffy regolith of Mars, millions of kilometres away. We can’t read Ingenuity’s face either, but I believe it’s the same mix of Armstrong’s excitement, fear, and fun of 52 years ago.

The image was assembled from a 3×3 mosaic of individual Mastcam-Z images at 110-mm focal length, and the helicopter is about 5 meters away from the rover. The image is also featured on this NASA/JPL Planetary Photojournal page:

April 6, 2021

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