Washington: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) mini helicopter named Ingenuity has stunned space lovers by providing a spectacular 3D view of a rock-covered mound on the red planet during its 13th flight on September 4. The mini-helicopter ‘Ingenuity’ flew to the red planet on February 18 while being attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover.Also Read - Montdenier, Montagnac: NASA Perseverance's Rock Samples to Provide Insight Into History of Mars

During its Flight 9, the mini-chopper flew over a rugged region called “Seitah,”  which are characterised by sandy ripples that are extremely challenging terrain for rovers.  The mini chopper took the colour images of Mars Jezero crater. Also Read - Mars Perseverance Rover Has Collected its First Martian Rock Sample, Confirms NASA

The mission aimed to capture images of this geologic target — nicknamed “Faillefeu” (after a medieval abbey in the French Alps) — and to obtain the colour pictures from a lower altitude than ever before — 8 metres. Also Read - Jeff Bezos Sues NASA Over Awarding Moon Lander Contract To Elon Musk

The 3D image showed that the mound is approximately 10 metres wide and is visible just north of the centre of the image, with some large rocks casting shadows.

Stretching across the top of the image is a portion of “Artuby”, a ridgeline expanding more than 900 metres wide. At the bottom of the image, and running vertically up into the middle, are a few of the many sand ripples that populate South Seitah, NASA said. Best viewed with red-blue glasses, this stereo or 3D view, also called an anaglyph was created by combining data from two images taken five-meter apart by the colour camera aboard Ingenuity.

The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was built by NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory in southern California. It has also become the first to test power flight in another world and to capture the colour image of the Martian surface. The mini-helicopter is a technology demonstration with a planned test flight duration of up to 30 martian days.

Ingenuity’s sole mission is to conduct flight tests in the thin atmosphere of Mars; the helicopter carries no science instruments. The Perseverance rover has provided support during the flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.

The data gathered by Ingenuity could benefit future explorations of the red planet — including those by astronauts — by adding the aerial dimension, which is not currently available.

(With Inputs From IANS)