Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, has highlighted a Pakistani developer whose open-source code enabled NASA’s Mars mission.
In his keynote address at the Microsoft Inspire Conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer praised Ahmad Awais, whose contribution on GitHub enabled NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission.
In terms of his contribution, Awais stated that he once fixed a minor bug and completely forgot about it until GitHub notified him that his code had contributed to the software of the Mars 2020 Helicopter Mission.
He went on to say that he was shocked when he realised his contribution had facilitated humanity’s first successful attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, 117 years after The Wright brothers’ first flight on Earth.
In addition to Awais, nearly 12,000 people contributed code, documentation, graphic design, and other services to the open-source software that enabled Ingenuity’s launch.
To celebrate the remarkable achievement in open-source history, GitHub added a special badge to the contributors’ profiles.
About the Ingenuity Helicopter Mission:
In July2020, NASA’s Invention Mars Helicopter will depart Earth for its 293 million mile journey to Mars aboard the Perseverance Rover.
Although Ingenuity Helicopter’s journey on Mars was only about 10 feet long, it was a big moment for humanity because it was the first powered, controlled flight on another planet and proof that a helicopter can achieve lift-off on Mars.
To fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere—which has an atmospheric volume less than 1% that of Earth’s—Jet NASA’s Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had to keep Ingenuity’s weight under 1.8 kg, which included blades, a motor, a power supply, solar panels, and enough computing power to monitor instruments and keep the helicopter from deviating from its pre-programmed course.
Packing everything Cleverness required into such a small rotorcraft was a feat of engineering that lived up to the project’s name.