Ingenuity - NASA's first flight to Mars is a fact
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter made a successful test flight to Mars, engineers confirmed early Monday morning.
The tiny spacecraft rose 10 meters from the surface of Mars for 39 seconds, marking the first motor flight to another world.
The historic show opens up alluring possibilities for a new way of planetary travel that could send future flying yachts far beyond traditional rovers.
The four-pound Ingenuity helicopter took off at 12:34 p.m. Mars time (10:34 AM Greek time) to achieve its first flight in the atmosphere of Mars. Its propellers spun faster than 2.500 rpm. (much faster than helicopters on Earth about 500 rpm).
The spacecraft hovered for about 30 seconds above the surface before landing, completing a fully autonomous 39,1-second flight test, according to NASA.
The small helicopter arrived on the Red Planet, 173 million miles from Earth, on February 18, clinging to the belly of NASA's Rover Perseverance. It landed on Mars a month later, on April 4, and in 31 days will make five test flights. Monday's successful flight paves the way for more ambitious efforts in the coming weeks.
Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed with great enthusiasm that Ingenuity's flight attempt was flawless.
"It has been confirmed that Ingenuity made the first flight of a motorized aircraft to another planet," said Ingenuity chief pilot Håvard Grip, to the applause of JPL Mission Control.
"We can now say that human beings have flown a helicopter to another planet," MiMi Aung, director of the Ingenuity project, told NASA engineers in the room after confirming the helicopter's successful flight test.
A black-and-white image from Ingenuity's navigation camera was the first visual confirmation of the helicopter's flight, showing the shadow of the experimental spacecraft about 10 feet (3,5 meters) above the surface. Minutes after the flight was confirmed, a sequence of images was taken by the Perseverance rover, which was monitoring the flight.