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NASA prepares to launch Mars helicopter ‘Ingenuity’


FILE – This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars which was attached to the bottom of the Perseverance rover, background left. It will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 8:08 AM PT – Sunday, April 4, 2021

NASA is preparing its space helicopter “Ingenuity” for the agency’s first powered flight of an aircraft on another planet.

Scientists on Friday said the Mars helicopter is likely to takeoff on or about April 11, adding it needs to charge up to 100 percent first. Ingenuity made its way over to the Red Planet as a part of the Perseverance program back in February.

Once detached, the device must survive on its own in surface temperatures down to negative 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

The helicopter’s blades move five times faster than those on earth, but scientists said it’s still unclear how it will behave amid flight in the Martian atmosphere.

“Now, the flight itself will consist of a take-off and then a climb to an altitude of three metres,” Chief Pilot of Ingenuity Harvard Grip said. “Then we will hover in place for about thirty seconds and turn with the helicopter while we are hovering, and then come down and land again.”

This March 21, 2021 photo made available by NASA shows the released debris shield, center, for the Ingenuity helicopter, dropped on the surface of Mars from the bottom of the Perseverance rover. On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, NASA announced that the helicopter's first Mars test flight will occur around April 8. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP)

This March 21, 2021 photo made available by NASA shows the released debris shield, center, for the Ingenuity helicopter, dropped on the surface of Mars from the bottom of the Perseverance rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS via AP)

 

Scientists said Ingenuity will broaden our understanding of the Red Planet and it will provide more data for future landings on Mars.

“Ingenuity will open new possibilities and will spark questions for the future about what we could accomplish with an aerial explorer,” Lori Glaze, director of the NASA Planetary Science Division said.

No longer receiving free power from the rover, Ingenuity will have to survive the first night on its own, leaving scientists to patiently see if the helicopter made it through.

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