NASA confirms it’s not the Star Wars Death Star in Mars helicopter photo – CNET

Look off to the far left of this NASA Ingenuity Mars helicopter image.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

The last thing a planet wants to see is the planet-destroying Death Star from Star Wars hovering nearby. Mars can breathe a sigh of relief knowing Darth Vader’s deadly space ride has not appeared near its surface.

On Friday, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted a “postcard from a Martian helicopter” as a reminder that raw images from the Ingenuity rotorcraft on Mars can be viewed and downloaded from the space agency. 

The image JPL shared shows an expansive, rocky and rippled landscape seen from the air. To the far left is a dark round object that appears against the sky. A Twitter user named B.R. responded with an amusing question: “Is that Death Star on the left?”

JPL came back with a deadpan response: “No Death Star there. It’s actually Ingenuity’s foot.”

Ingenuity captured the shot on May 23 with its high-resolution color camera. The positioning of the foot, plus its shape and dark color, made it a perfect doppelganger for the menacing Star Wars spacecraft.

This wouldn’t be the first Star Wars-related lookalike out in space. Saturn’s moon Mimas is known as the “Death Star moon,” and a UFO fan once spotted a Jabba the Hutt-like rock on Mars.

Ingenuity has made history on Mars since arriving with the Perseverance rover earlier this year. The small rotorcraft has completed six flights and survived a harrowing technical glitch during its sixth effort. It could take to the air again after its team works through the tech issue.

In the meantime, we can flip through Ingenuity’s photo journal, watch it fly in 3D and enjoy the gentle whirring sounds it made during flight. And at least NASA doesn’t need to figure out how to send a TIE fighter to Mars.

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