70 Flights on Mars

When Perseverance rover landed on Mars, it brought along a little helicopter in its belly. The helicopter, named Ingenuity, was a 30-day technology demonstration sent to see if we could fly an aircraft in the very thin Martian atmosphere.

As is often with NASA’s robotic missions to Mars in recent times, it did that, and exceeded all expectations. It became a companion to the rover and performed about 70 flights over the nearly three years that it flew on Mars. Then last month it encountered an accident that left one of its propeller damaged. That ended the mission.

I’ve been fascinated by this little flying helicopter and have often looked at the photos it was sending back. So much so that I have now compiled a video of all the photos taken by the navigation camera on Ingenuity. This downward pointing camera photographs the ground below it, and so the helicopter is always seen by its shadow, scuttling about the Martian landscape for a cumulative 17 km (10.5 miles) over its mission timeline.

No doubt, Ingenuity has shown that a flying robot is a very useful tool in exploring Mars, like wheeled rovers showed over the last few decades. Perhaps enough that future missions will bring more along.

For more information and a lot more interesting media, like the locations of all these flights, check out its official website.

Direct link to video file

Playing with the IMDb dataset to find top movies that have multiple directors

I was playing with the pandas library on python and picked the IMDb dataset to explore.

To give myself a learning goal, I asked the following question:

What movies are generally regarded as the best that have multiple directors?

After some finagling the dataset (of multiple large CSV files) I arrived at the following list of twenty, in descending order of average rating:

  1. The Matrix (1999) • 8.7
    Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

  2. City of God (2002) • 8.6
    Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund

  3. The Intouchables (2011) • 8.5
    Olivier Nakache, Éric Toledano

  4. Avengers: Endgame (2019) • 8.4
    Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

  5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) • 8.4
    Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

  6. No Country for Old Men (2007) • 8.2
    Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

  7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) • 8.2
    Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones

  8. Gone with the Wind (1939) • 8.2
    Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood

  9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) • 8.1
    Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

  10. The Big Lebowski (1998) • 8.1
    Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

  11. Fargo (1996) • 8.1
    Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

  12. The Wizard of Oz (1939) • 8.1
    Victor Fleming, King Vidor, Richard Thorpe, Norman Taurog, Mervyn LeRoy, George Cukor

  13. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) • 8.0
    Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan

  14. Sin City (2005) • 8.0
    Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez

  15. Captain America: Civil War (2016) • 7.8
    Joe Russo, Anthony Russo

  16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) • 7.8
    Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

  17. Little Miss Sunshine (2006) • 7.8
    Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

  18. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) • 7.7
    Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

  19. True Grit (2010) • 7.6
    Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

  20. The Butterfly Effect (2004) • 7.6
    Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber

Some thoughts on these results:

  • Most of the films here are from the last twenty-five years. Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz are the two remarkable exceptions, surprisingly from the same year, 1939, and with the same main director, Victor Fleming.
  • Gone with the Wind has a runtime of 238 minutes, which is far above any other film here, and that makes it additionally remarkable that it is on this list.
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once was a surprise to see here, given its newness. I wonder if its rating will go up or down with time.
  • I have seen seventeen of these films. The others are now on my to-watch list 😄

Notes on the data filtering and sorting process to get to the final list:

  • Only movies. This eliminated shorts, TV, etc.
  • Not animated. Apparently it is common for animated movies to have more than one director, so they were sort of skewing the results away from what I really intended to discover, even though I didn’t realize it at the time I asked myself that leading question.
  • High rating (> 7.5) and high number of votes (> 250000). I tweaked these to narrow down a short list. If I only maximized one or the other, the results didn’t seem representative of the question.
  • Year of release used as a tie breaker. I figured a more recent film with a high rating had a larger impact on the zeitgeist and so deserved to be higher on the list.

The script can be found here.

P.S. The dataset obviously has biases and those impact the results.

A video of every image from the navigation camera on Ingenuity helicopter on Mars

There’s a little solar powered helicopter on Mars. It’s named Ingenuity and it has a little camera on its belly that looks downwards. This video has every image taken by that camera from the first one on April 3, 2021 (Sol 43) until today. Ingenuity is 19 inches (0.49m) tall and weighs 4 lbs (1.8kg).

Note: This video has no audio.

Data Source

Ingenuity Website

Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Sam Grover

Direct link to video file


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