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    Mastcam-Z Gives Ingenuity A Close-up

    Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, aboard the Perseverance rover / NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU
    NASA is targeting no earlier than Sunday, April 11, for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet. To mark a month of Ingenuity flights, the agency will host several events to bring people along for the ride.

    NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen here in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover. This image was taken on April 5, the 45th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. A secondary set of anaglyph images are included for use with red-blue 3D glasses.

    The mosaic is not white balanced but is instead 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.

    A livestream confirming Ingenuity’s first flight is targeted to begin around 3:30 a.m. EDT Monday, April 12, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, and will livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including the JPL YouTube and Facebook channels.

    Ingenuity arrived at Mars’ Jezero Crater Feb. 18, attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. The helicopter is a technology demonstration with a planned test flight duration of up to 31 days (30 Mars days, or sols). The rover will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.

    The flight date may shift as engineers work on the deployments, preflight checks, and vehicle positioning of both Perseverance and Ingenuity. Timing for events will be updated as needed, and the latest schedule will be available on the helicopter’s Watch Online click here.

     Virtual media briefings before and after Ingenuity’s first flight attempt and the livestream coverage of the flight attempt will originate from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. A preflight briefing at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT) Friday, April 9, will provide the latest details on the helicopter’s operations and what to expect on the first flight day.

    Briefing participants are expected to include:

    • Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, NASA Headquarters
    • MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager, JPL
    • Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead, JPL
    • Amelia Quon, Ingenuity chamber test engineer, JPL
    • Elsa Jensen, Mastcam-Z uplink operations lead, Malin Space Science Systems

    If the helicopter flies on Sunday, April 11, as expected, the livestream will show the helicopter team analyzing the first test flight data in JPL’s Space Flight Operations Facility beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT) Monday, April 12. A postflight briefing is expected to take place at 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT) Monday, April 12.

     Members of the media who wish to participate in the briefings by telephone must provide their name and affiliation at least two hours before each briefing to Rexana Vizza at: rexana.v.vizza@jpl.nasa.gov. The public and the media also may ask questions on social media during the briefings and livestream using #MarsHelicopter.

    Live shots and remote live interviews via Zoom will be offered in English and Spanish from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT (3 to 10 a.m. PDT) Friday, April 9. To book a live shot window, media should complete and submit the form available at: https://forms.gle/6dbMULmkBe7yj9HNA

    Interview requests outside that window can be arranged by calling JPL’s Digital News and Media Office at 818-354-5011 or completing the form available at: https://bit.ly/mars-landing-media

     Public and Student Opportunities

     On Thursday, April 8, at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT), students can watch a special conversation with members of the rover and helicopter teams on the NASA-JPL Edu YouTube channel and NASA TV.

     A series of informal talks, titled, “Taking Flight: How Girls Can Grow Up to Be Engineers,” will take place Thursday, April 15; Thursday, April 22; and Thursday, April 29; at 4 p.m. EDT (1 p.m. PDT) each day, with exact dates and times based on Ingenuity’s first flight. The talks will focus on helping girls chart a path to engineering and provide invitations to special events for girls and women interested in the field.

     More About Ingenuity

    NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter technology demonstration is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Research, and Space Technology mission directorates. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations for Ingenuity and the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

    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.

     Follow Ingenuity via the @NASA@NASAJPL, and @NASAMars Twitter accounts; NASA and NASAPersevere Facebook accounts; and NASA Instagram account. Join the conversation, ask questions, and get answers online by using #MarsHelicopter.

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