Ingenuity Flight Rendered in 3D

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LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE, Calif., May 17, 2021 — NASA engineers have rendered the the Mars helicopter Ingenuity’s third flight in three dimensions. The footage offers new perspective and depth to the April 25 flight.

The Perseverance rover recorded the flight with the zoomable dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager located on its mast, or “head.” The cameras provided a stereoscopic view of the helicopter’s movements. In addition to producing images that allow the public to follow the rover’s discoveries and travels, the cameras offer key information to help with navigation and the location of rocks to study.
Artist’s concept of the Perseverance rover filming the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s flight. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Artist’s concept of the Perseverance rover filming Ingenuity’s flight. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Imaging scientist Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory led the team that stitched the images together into a video. Frames of the video were reprojected to optimize viewing in an anaglyph, or an image seen in 3D when viewed with color-filtered glasses.

“The Mascam-Z video capability was inherited from the Mars Science Laboratory MARDI (Mars Descent Imager) camera,” Maki said. “To be reusing this capability on a new mission by acquiring 3D video of a helicopter flying above the surface of Mars is just spectacular.”

Videos created of the helicopter are the most extensive 3D video to date from the Mastcam-Z team.

The rover’s drivers and robotic-arm operators use a more sophisticated 3D system to interpret their surroundings before planning the rover’s movements. However, according to Maki, team members have also been viewing still 3D images for rover-drive planning.

“A helicopter flying on Mars opens a new era for Mars for Mars exploration. It’s a great demonstration of a new technology for exploration,” Maki said. “With each flight we open up more possibilities.”


After the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover captured Ingenuity’s third flight on April 25, the frames of the video that was stitched together were then reprojected to optimize viewing in an anaglyph, or an image seen in 3D when viewed through color-filtered glasses. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

Published: May 2021
Research & TechnologyNASAMarsMars roversIngenuity Mars HelicopterIngenuitycameras3D3D imagingstereoscopicstereoscopic 3D imagingMastcam-ZJet Propulsion LabJet Propulsion Laboratory

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