(ORDO NEWS) — On the eve of NASA representatives reported that the Ingenuity mini-helicopter weighing 1.8 kg on April 19 should rise from the bottom of the Martian crater Jezero three meters above the surface and land after 30 seconds in the air.
The first test of the device was successful: Ingenuity spun the blades in normal mode, took off, hovered for 30 seconds, descended and landed. The news was greeted with cheers and applause at the Mission Control Center, and images from the mission showed the craft hovering over the surface of Mars.
“Now we can say that people flew in a helicopter on another planet. We’ve talked about this event for so long as a Wright Brothers moment. And here it is,”- MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Project Manager.
While the flight today was short, it could pave the way for extensive exploration with Martian aircraft in the future. Thanks to Ingenuity’s pioneering work, future missions to the Red Planet will be able to include helicopters as scouts for rovers or data collectors, NASA officials said.
Mission Ingenuity costing $ 85 million, it is a technology demonstration designed to show that controlled flight on the Red Planet is possible. But it was far from as obvious as it might seem! The density of the Martian atmosphere is only 1% of the density of the earth’s atmosphere at sea level. This disadvantage alone outweighs the benefits that the helicopter gains from the lower gravitational attraction – on Mars, it is 38% of Earth’s.
The original flight date has been pushed back to April 11 as the engineers needed additional time to work on pre-flight checks and to resolve the command sequencing issue.
The mission team expects Ingenuity to make at least five flights, and during the fifth flight will rise 4.5 meters, fly 150 meters, and then return to the take-off site.
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