Open source goes to Mars 🚀

Image of Nat Friedman

This morning, we watched in awe as the first Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, took flight in the thin Martian atmosphere. This is an incredible achievement for the teams at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). It’s also an achievement powered, in part, by an invisible team of open source developers from around the world. In fact, nearly 12,000 developers on GitHub contributed to Ingenuity’s software via open source. And yet, much like the first image of a black hole, most of these developers are not even aware that they helped make the first Martian helicopter flight possible.

Today, we want to make the invisible visible. So, we have worked with JPL to place a new Mars 2020 Helicopter Mission badge on the GitHub profile of every developer who contributed to the specific versions of any open source projects and libraries used by Ingenuity. You can check out the full list of projects like SciPy, Linux, and F Prime (F’) that were used by the JPL team here.

We are also using this opportunity to introduce a new Achievements section to the GitHub profile. Right now, Achievements include the Mars 2020 Helicopter Mission badge, the Arctic Code Vault badge, and a badge for sponsoring open source work via GitHub Sponsors. Watch this space!

Read the story behind the new badge and how open source contributors helped Ingenuity take flight on The ReadME Project.

Congratulations to the teams at NASA and JPL, and to the thousands of developers who made today’s first Martian flight possible. We’re all still here on Earth, but your code is now on Mars!