On 19 April 2021 I saw a link titled “Mars 2020 Helicopter Contributor” on /r/programming. It’s a blog post by Daniel Stenberg, the lead developer of curl, about him getting a special badge on his GitHub profile because curl was used for the Mars 2020 Helicopter Mission.

As described on the GitHub Blog, this isn’t just limited to such high-profile open-source contributors but “nearly 12000” GitHub users got the badge. It is determined by having contributed to particular open-source projects before particular versions, with the full list available in GitHub documentation. Most of these seem to be Python projects, but one non-Python project caught my eye: OpenCV.

Immediately I just had to check my GitHub profile and to my great surprise I also got the “Mars 2020 Helicopter Contributor” badge:

Screenshot of my GitHub Mars 2020 Helicopter Contributor badge

I’m honored to be one of the 12000, but my single contribution is very likely unrelated to the NASA mission: “Allow V4L, V4L2 to be used as preferred capture API”. As far as I remember, I encountered and fixed the issue while working on a Robotex soccer robot called Cryptex, which relied on OpenCV for its cameras and vision. So, no, I don’t secretly work for NASA.