NASA’s Ingenuity makes history as the first aircraft to achieve powered flight on another planet
Ingenuity made history today as the first aircraft to achieve controlled, powered flight on another planet. Ingenuity arrived in Mars attached to the underside of Perseverance which landed on Mars on 18th February.
The helicopter was airborne today for 40 seconds and reached a height of 10ft. During the hover, ingenuity captured images 30 times per second to feed into the navigation computer and used a second higher-resolution camera to capture images while the helicopter was aloft. Once the helicopter lands, data is then sent back to earth.
"We've been talking about our Wright Brothers moment on another planet for so long. And now, here it is." - MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL.
The 1.8kg helicopter would be flown up to five times a day with each flight planned to fly at altitudes ranging from 10–16 ft above the ground for up to 90 seconds each.
Manufactured by NASA, ingenuity uses autonomous control during its short flights, which is telerobotically planned and scripted by operators at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (JPL)
It is harder to generate lift in Mars atmosphere is 1⁄100 as dense on earth it makes it harder to generate lift. Flying the helicopter at the surface is equivalent to flying at 100,000ft over the earth's surface which has never been done.
NASA has invested about US$80 million to build Ingenuity and US$5 million to operate the helicopter.