NASA Helicopter Touches Down on Mars
Ingenuity Lands on Mars
First Helicopter on Another Planet
NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity is an aviation wonder. It is the world's first helicopter to land on Mars after being dropped out of its mother ship Perseverance Rover. The final drop was 4 inches and Ingenuity's legs fully deployed. The helicopter's first flight is scheduled for April 11 with data on how its systems performed and what it observed on Mars coming back to NASA on April 12. These history making milestones are occurring 293 million miles away from Earth.
Ingenuity is a technological marvel. It weighs just 4 pounds and unfolds like a butterfly. The vehicle is solar powered and relies on a rechargeable battery to power an internal heater to stay warm during the harshly cold Martian nights that can go down to -130 degrees F. The helicopter interior needs to be about 45 degrees F to preserve the sensitive electronics onboard.
Drone in Space
Ingenuity is a $85 million drone designed to test new technologies for future trips to other planets. It has two cameras to document its flights. There are a series of flights scheduled over a 31 day period. Each successive flight will be longer in length. The flight zone consists of 90 miles over Mar's Jezero Crater, a place that many scientists believe once supported ancient forms of life. The maximum flight altitude for Ingenuity is 16.5 feet. Over the upcoming days NASA will be testing the helicopter's four rotor blades that are capable of spinning up to 2,537 revolutions per minute. It will also be checking to determine how Ingenuity and its many advanced electronics, cameras and sensors are withstanding the brutal cold of Mars at night.