GitHub powers NASA’s helicopter and gives developers special badge

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GutHub wants to recognize the developers with a special “badge”.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history this week, thanks in large part to almost 12,000 open source developers. The helicopter’s launch was the first powered flight on another planet. Ingenuity proved that it’s possible for a helicopter to achieve lift-off on Mars.

In order to fly in Mars’s thin atmosphere, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had to keep the weight of Ingenuity below four pounds (1.8kg).

That included blades, a motor, a power supply, solar panels. But it also needed to pack substantial computing power. This was needed to monitor instruments and keep the helicopter from deviating from its pre-programmed course. Cramming everything into such a small craft was a great feat of engineering and needed a lot of Ingenuity. It was, they say, an achievement worthy of the helicopter’s name.

Giving credit where it is due

Microsoft’s Github is now trying to give credit to the thousands of developers who contributed to the open source projects and libraries used by Ingenuity. Each of those developers will get a badge to indicate they played a role in Ingenuity’s success. GitHub announced the program in a blog post this week.

According to Nat Friedman of GitHub, nearly 12,000 developers will be able to see the new badge on their profile. IGitHub also revealed that there are many projects which were used by NASA’s JPL team. The list includes SciPy, Linux, and F Prime (F’.)

Friedman said that GitHub is using this opportunity to introduce a new Achievements section to the GitHub profile. Achievements include the Mars 2020 Helicopter Mission badge, the Arctic Code Vault badge, and a badge for sponsoring open source work via GitHub Sponsors. More Achievements are still to come, he added.

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