NASA recently confirmed that its Ingenuity mini-helicopter has successfully touched down on the surface of Mars to brace for its first flight. NASA Ingenuity has been attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars on February 18, 2021.
As reported by AFP, NASA’s official Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) tweeted regarding the touchdown last week on Saturday. “MarsHelicopter touchdown confirmed! Its 293 million miles (471 million kilometres) journey aboard @NASAPersevere ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 centimetres) from the rover’s belly to the surface of Mars today. Next milestone? Survive the night”, read the tweet. Ever since its posting, the tweet has received over 40,000 likes and 8,000 comments.
#MarsHelicopter touchdown confirmed! Its 293 million mile (471 million km) journey aboard @NASAPersevere ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 cm) from the rover’s belly to the surface of Mars today. Next milestone? Survive the night. https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/XaBiSNebua
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 4, 2021
The report notes that Ingenuity had been using Perseverance’s power system but will now be using its own battery to run a vital heater. This will help protect its electrical components from freezing and cracking amidst the harsh martian environment.
When will the #MarsHelicopter drop? Soon! First we need to charge it to 100%. Once it’s no longer connected to @NASAPersevere, the craft must survive surface temperatures down to -130ºF (-90ºC) on its own.
Check out the chief engineer’s blog for more: https://t.co/UDgQPkMSRl
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 2, 2021
“Ingenuity is an experimental engineering flight test – we want to see if we can fly at Mars,” said MiMi Aung, project manager for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL in a press release by NASA. “There are no science instruments onboard and no goals to obtain scientific information. We are confident that all the engineering data we want to obtain both on the surface of Mars and aloft can be done within this 30-sol window.”
Now that Ingenuity has been dropped down on the Martian surface, it is expected to make its first flight attempt on April 11, 2021.
Come fly with us. #MarsHelicopter is preparing to do something that’s never been done: controlled, powered flight on another planet. Takeoff is now slated for no earlier than April 11, with data arriving on Earth on April 12. https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/JSep5lcKhR
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 1, 2021
Image source: NASA JPL Twitter