NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Historic Flight Successful

The flight by Ingenuity was the first by a powered aircraft on another planet.

NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Historic Flight Successful

Photo Credit: NASA

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

Highlights
  • Ingenuity will analyse its position with respect to Martian surface
  • A short clip was sent back by the Perseverance rover
  • Most spectacular images are supposed to come from the Perseverance rover

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

"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 honour of that feat.


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Further reading: NASA, Ingenuity, Perseverance, Mars
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