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Mars Ingenuity helicopter sees its own shadow on 3rd flight

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The Mars helicopter Ingenuity flew for the third time on April 25, 2021. During that flight it took many images, including looking straight down at the terrain underneath it. Some of these images were assembled into an animation showing the helicopter’s shadow on the ground! The animation repeats twice.

The blades don’t seem to move due to the way the images were taken; the shutter is synched to the blade movement. The bright spot around the shadow is due to the opposition effect: The lack of shadows from rocks and other irregularities on the surface makes it look brighter, plus dusty surfaces tend to reflect more light straight back in the direction the light came from, making it look brighter around the shadow.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Original video: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/ingenuitys-shadow-during-third-flight

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