red zone

NASA release the first-ever colour photographs of Mars taken by an aerial vehicle
By Finn Blythe | Current affairs | 26 April 2021

We’re all familiar with its nickname as the Red Planet but until now we’ve had to take it on trust. Thanks to NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter (which become the first of its kind to fly on Mars), proof of the planet’s mythologised hue has now been revealed via the first-ever colour pictures of it surface.

Since the Perseverance landed on Mars in mid-February, having travelled just under 500 million kilometers to get there, the flagship space programme has yielded some truly magnificent discoveries. Things got off to a flyer upon touchdown with the release of the first audio recording taken from the planet’s surface and it’s only got better from there. Sure, signs of life (the prime objective of the mission) have yet to be discovered, but significant inroads have been made elsewhere.

So far we’ve had the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet (three times), the conversion of the planet’s carbon dioxide atmosphere into breathable oxygen, volcanic rock studies that suggest there might have once been water and now the first ever colour photograph of the planet’s dusty barren surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was air-borne. Further studies are set to take place at the 40-metre-high cliffs of an ancient river delta that ran billions of years ago but these aren’t likely to begin until June.

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