Earlier this year, a small robotic helicopter made history by becoming the first aircraft to operate on a planet other than Earth. The helicopter, called Ingenuity, managed to take off vertically, then hover and land on Mars, as part of Nasa’s Mars 2020 mission.

Being the only helicopter on Mars, it could continuously outperform itself and on its ninth flight over the Jezero Crater, it broke records for flight duration, cruise speed and distance.

But what was truly remarkable about Ingenuity is that it was powered by a free, open-source flight software called F Prime, created by Nasa.

Open-source technology, by definition, allows anyone to freely use, edit, modify and redistribute the source code of a piece of software. This modification and redistribution means developers build upon each other’s work.

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