My1sttoday: NASA prepares Mars helicopter for first flight on another planet.
NASA’s space helicopter Ingenuity is preparing for the agency’s first powered flight on another planet.
The Ingenuity was attached to the rover Perseverance on its seven-month flight to Mars that landed in February.
The helicopter’s high-speed blades – which move five times faster than helicopter blades on Earth – will be put to the test in the thin air on Mars, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Ingenuity is currently locked in place on carbon fiber legs on Mars on a carefully selected patch of soil that serves as a helicopter pad, according to the WSJ.
Its batteries need to fully charge before scientists can prepare it for takeoff, which is likely to take place around April 11, according to the WSJ.
The flight will last for 90 seconds and won’t go any higher than 10 feet.
Scientists overcame several challenges to prepare for this flight, including factoring in the lag between signals from Earth to the helicopter. The lag makes it so that scientists do not have direct control of the craft.
Ingenuity’s flight has been compared by NASA officials to the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight more than 100 years ago, with a piece of material from the Wright brothers’ plane on Ingenuity.
The Perseverance provided NASA with another first on Mars, with the first colored image of the red planet a day after it landed.
If ingenuity’s flight is successful, the achievement could usher in a new age of space exploration through drones, according to the WSJ.