Open Source Software Fuel to flying on Mars!

The mini-helicopter Ingenuity was flown on another planet for its first time. It is another milestone in history.

Engineering supported by open-source software, Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, a tiny NASA helicopter, is the first technology demonstration to have test powered aircraft on an entirely different planet, successfully performed on April 19, 2021. Riding along with the Perseverance rover to Mars creating a milestone for humanity. It is the first such flight that has flown in any world beyond Earth.

Engineering Journey Of Ingenuity

This engineering journey was achieved using Linux, an open-source software, and open-source flight control F´ (F prime) framework, a NASA-created programme developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Meanwhile, from ground control to flight simulation to data processing, the Python ecosystem had been vital in everything. It climbed about 10 feet(3 metres) above the ground, in its first flight, briefly hovered around the air, completed a turn and then successfully landed. It was not easy at 11-light minutes from Earth. 

Mars indeed has one-third the gravity of Earth, but its atmosphere has one-hundredth the density on Earth. The importance of Ingenuity is to demonstrate what it can do with commercial open-source software development and off-the-shelf hardware. JPL Ingenuity crew and GitHub CEO Nat Friedman with his team took a long hard look into the code of Helicopter to find that around 12,000 developers on GitHub contributed to the software of Ingenuity via open source. 

GitHub profile had a new badge for celebrating their contributions that made the launch of Ingenuity possible. Many of these developers do not even know that the first helicopter flight was made possible by them. A detailed list of every version was provided by GitHub, with every open source project used by Ingenuity, with a list of developers. GitHub could then track down everyone who contributed to these ventures in the order of their dependencies.


F Prime: A Flight Software & Embedded Systems

Framework F´ originally developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a software framework used in this mission. This software had been open-sourced a few years ago. The team did a thorough review to ensure that the code had zero trade secrets or internationally protected technological treaties before releasing it under the Apache License in July 2017 to get the software framework that flies the Mars Helicopter and use it on the project.

It is a rapid development software framework used for the deployment of spaceflight applications and embedded systems. It is not just limited to instruments, SmallSats, CubeSats, and deployable. Contributing to F’ is one way to be a part of spaceflight. There is a whole universe of open-source software that powers Ingenuity and other space exploration projects.

It is a rapid development software framework for the deployment of embedded systems and spaceflight applications. It is not limited to instruments, CubeSats, SmallSats, and deployable. Contributing to F is one way to be a part of spaceflight. A universe of open source software powers Ingenuity and other space exploration projects.

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