NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Spots Foreign Object Debris on Mars

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter acquired this image using its navigation camera. This camera is mounted in the helicopter’s fuselage and pointed directly downward to track the ground during flight. This image was acquired on November 6, 2021 (Sol 254 of the Perseverance rover mission) at the local mean solar time of 12:06:00. This was the date of Ingenuity’s 15th flight. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Footage from the Mars helicopter’s navigation camera reveals a small piece of foreign object debris (FOD).

During a portion of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter’s 33rd flight, a small piece of foreign object debris (FOD) was seen in footage (see video below) from the Mars helicopter’s navigation camera (Navcam).

This foreign object debris was not visible in Navcam footage from the previous flight (32). The FOD is seen in Flight 33 Navcam imagery from the earliest frames to around halfway through the video, when it fell from the leg and drifted back to the Mars surface. All telemetry from the flight and a post-flight search and transfer are nominal and show no indication of vehicle damage. The Ingenuity and Perseverance Mars 2020 teams are currently working to determine the source of the debris.

Navigation Camera Imagery of Ingenuity’s Flight 33: A small piece of foreign object debris (FOD) is seen in this footage from the navigation camera of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 33rd flight on Mars on September 24, 2022. The FOD is seen attached to one of the rotorcraft’s landing legs (upper right part of image), then drifting away. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech