The American space agency NASA has successfully operated a small helicopter on Mars.
The drone named Ingenuity was airborne for a little less than a minute. But NASA is praising what depicts the first powered, controlled flying by an aircraft on another world.
Confirmation came via a satellite at Mars which relayed the chopper’s data back to Earth. The space agency is assuring more brave flights in the day ahead.
Ingenuity will set to fly higher and distant as engineers seek to test the limits of the technology.
The rotorcraft was carried to Mars in the gut of NASA’s Preservence Rover. Which reached down to Jezero Crater on the Red Planet in February.
MiMi Aung said that they can now say that human beings have operated a rotorcraft on another planet. MiMi is the project manager of Ingenuity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Pasadena, California.
She added that we all have been waiting for Wright brother’s moment on another planet, and this was it.
This refers to Orville and Wilbur, in 1903, who conducted the first powered, controlled aircraft flight here on Earth.
Ingenuity also carried a small swatch of cloth from one of the wings of Flyer 1. The aircraft made a historic hovering at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, over a 117 years ago.
There was applause at the JPL control centre at the first photo of the flight back on Earth. Moreover, in the background, MiMi Yunng was heard saying that it was real.
To claps from he colleagues, she tore up the contingency speech. It was supposed to be used if the mission was a failure.
The exhibit saw the Mars copter rise to about 3 metres, float, pivot and then land. In all, it managed to take around 40 seconds of flight from taking off to landing.
Getting airborne on Mars is not easy. Moreover, the atmosphere is fragile, just 1% of the density here on Earth. This gives the edges on a rotorcraft very little to bite into to win lift.
There’s relief from the lower gravity on the Red Planet, Mars, but it takes a lot of work to get off the ground. Ingenuity was hence, made highly light and was given the skill to turn those blades remarkably fast. The revolution was at over 2,500 turns per minute for this particular flight.