Ingenuity helicopter successfully flew on Mars: NASA

Published April 19, 2021, 6:16 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

NASA successfully flew the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars on Monday, according to data and images sent back to Earth.

This NASA photo obtained on April 18, 2021, shows the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter right after it successfully completed a high-speed spin-up test, captured by the Mastcam-Z instrument on Perseverance on April 16, 2021 (the 55th sol, or Martian day, of the rover’s mission). (Photo by Handout / NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Altimeter data confirms that Ingenuity has performed its first flight — the first flight of a powered aircraft on another planet,” announced an engineer in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the control room cheered. 

A short clip sent back by the Perseverance rover showed the four pound chopper grounded at first, hovering three meters above the Martian surface, then touching back down.

Ingenuity itself sent back a still black-and-white image from its downward pointing camera, showing its own shadow cast on the surface.

“We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet!” said lead engineer MiMi Aung to her team.

“We’ve been talking so long about our Wright brothers’ moment on Mars, and here it is,” she added.

The first powered flight on Earth was achieved by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. 

A piece of fabric from that plane has been tucked inside Ingenuity in honor of that feat.