NASA has taken its invention drone helicopter to Mars for the first time
News: NASA has moved a plane to another planet for the first time. On Monday, April 19, Ingenuity, a 1.8-pound drone helicopter, took off from the surface of Mars, flew about three meters, then rotated and flew for 40 seconds. The historical moment was broadcast live YouTube, and Ingenuity took the photo above with one of its two cameras. “We can now say that man made an airplane engine on another planet,” MiMi Aung, director of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at a news conference. “We, together, flew to Mars, and we, together, now have the moment of the Wright brothers,” he added, referring to the first motorized aircraft made on Earth in 1903.
In fact, the invention pays homage to this famous flight: a a piece of material the size of a postage stamp from the Wright brothers ’plane under the solar panel. (The Apollo crew also carried a piece of wood to the Wright Flyer, as it was named, to the moon in 1969.)
Details: The flight was a major technical challenge, thanks to the cold temperature of Mars’ bones (which can drop to -130 ° F / -90 ° C at night) and its extremely thin atmosphere – the Earth’s density is only 1%. This meant that the ingenuity had to be light, with rotor blades that were larger and faster than necessary to take off on Earth (although the gravity of Mars, which is only a third of the Earth, worked in its favor). The flight was originally scheduled for April 11 but was delayed due to software issues.
Why it is significant: As well as being an important milestone in Mars exploration, the flight will also give engineers a way to think of new ways to explore other planets. Future drone helicopters can also assist vehicles or astronauts by examining locations, exploring inaccessible sites, and capturing images. The invention will help Dragonfly, the design of a car-sized drone, which NASA plans to send to Saturn’s Titan moon in 2027.
What’s next: In the coming weeks, Ingenuity will make four more flights, each lasting 90 seconds. Each is designed to further push the limits of the powers of ingenuity. The asthma is only designed for 30 days on Mars, and is expected to stop operating around May 4th. The final rest will be in the Jezero crater as NASA moves to the main axis of its mission: Perseverance rover examine Mars to prove life.