The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the American space agency responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and space research.
A tiny and extremely lightweight helicopter, named Ingenuity, was transported to Mars in NASA’s Perseverance Rover. Ingenuity was deployed on 3 April 2021.
NASA has successfully flown this helicopter on the red planet today.
As it’s primarily a technology demonstration, Ingenuity’s first powered flight on the alien planet was brief. The Mars-copter flew to about 3m, hover, swivel and safely land in its momentous 40 second flight. But it’s a huge step forwards, paving the way for longer flights and the prospect of this technology undertaking reconnaissance missions.
And what’s powering Ingenuity? Yes, you guessed it! It’s running Linux. At the heart of Ingenuity is F’ (pronounced F prime), an open source component-driven framework that enables rapid development and deployment of spaceflight and other embedded software applications.
Given that F’ is open source (GitHub repository), this means that anyone can fly Linux here on Earth using the same software running on Ingenuity.
This is a moment in history for us to remember. An open source operating system built by thousands flies a helicopter on another planet.