Nasa's Mars helicopter Ingenuity has completed the first ever controlled and powered flight on another planet. Data sent from the Martian surface by the helicopter showed that it had flown up into the air, hovered for 30 seconds, before touching down again safely. It makes history as the first time a rotored craft has flown on another planet, and the first time a spacecraft has conducted a controlled flight of any kind. But it also marks the beginning of a "month of Ingenuity", in which the space agency will look to fly further and for longer across the surface. Images sent from the Ingenuity's navigation camera, mounted on the bottom of the craft, showed its shadow as it flew over the surface.
NASA will attempt to fly Ingenuity for the first time early next month. The agency announced it plans to test fly the 4-pound prototype helicopter no earlier than April 8th. Ingenuity made its way to Mars attached to the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover, which successfully landed on the surface of the Red Planet on February 18th. Perseverance will deploy Ingenuity in a 33-by-33 foot stretch of terrain within the Jezero Crater NASA has selected for its flatness. The entire process will take about six days to complete, with one step of the procedure involving a pyrotechnic cable-cutting device.
NASA's Perseverance is gearing up to release the Ingenuity helicopter that will conduct the first controlled flights on another planet. Ingenuity is currently in the belly of the rover that is traveling to an'airfield' on Mars, which is deemed the perfect take-off site – a flat area with textured features to help the helicopter track its path. The deployment of Ingenuity from the belly of Perseverance will take about six sols to complete and from there the rotocopter will have to meet a series of milestones before attempting its first flight. NASA is targeting no earlier than April 8 for this event, which will see Ingenuity fly nine feet into the air, hover in place for 30 seconds and then land again on Mars' surface. And the team says if the helicopter can pull off the short flight, the entire mission will be deemed a success. If the rotorcraft lands successfully and remains operable, up to four more flights could be attempted, each one building on the success of the last.
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has been seen on Mars for the first time, strapped to the belly of the Perseverance rover, ahead of its first flight next month. The debris shield, covering the small helicopter, was discarded by Perseverance on Sunday, revealing Ingenuity tucked up and stowed sideways under the vehicle. It was'folded up and locked in place,' according to NASA, who said there would be'some reverse origami' required before it can be deployed to the Martian surface. Perseverance will now begin its'couple of days' drive to the designated helipad inside the Jezero crater, where Ingenuity will begin its maiden flight. NASA says it will launch'no earlier than the first week of April,' at which point they will have 30 days to make the first launch of a helicopter on another world. NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has been seen on Mars for the first time, strapped to the belly of the Perseverance rover after the debris shield was dropped from the vehicle NASA is set to fly where no one has flown before – Mars' atmosphere.
Humans are getting better at flying helicopters on other planets. On Sunday, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flew for the third time, making records in terms of speed and the distance it covered. NASA says the helicopter rose 16 feet (the same altitude as Ingenuity's second flight), but it covered a distance of 164 feet, and flew at a top speed of 6.6 feet per second. You can see the video of the flight below, taken by NASA's Perseverance rover. Notice how cool this is: A man-made rover is taking a video of a man-made helicopter flying on another planet.