- NASA on Monday efficiently flew its helicopter named Ingenuity on Mars.
- Knowledge and pictures from the autonomous flight have been transmitted 173 million miles (278 million kilometres) again to Earth.
- Ingenuity rapidly despatched again a black-and-white picture from its downward-pointing navigation digital camera, exhibiting its bug-like shadow solid on the floor.
NASA on Monday efficiently flew its tiny helicopter named Ingenuity on Mars, the primary powered flight on one other planet and a feat a prime engineer referred to as “our Wright brothers´ moment.”
At 3:34 am Japanese Time (0734 GMT), the four-pound (1.8 kilograms) rotorcraft lifted off, hovered 10 ft (three meters) above the Martian floor, then got here again to relaxation after 39.1 seconds.
Knowledge and pictures from the autonomous flight have been transmitted 173 million miles (278 million kilometres) again to Earth the place they have been obtained by NASA´s array of floor antennas and processed greater than three hours later.
Engineers have been tensely watching their screens on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the place the mission had been designed and deliberate for the previous six years.
They broke into applause as one in every of them learn off a guidelines of duties Ingenuity had achieved and concluded: “Ingenuity has performed its first flight — the first flight of a powered aircraft on another planet.”
Ingenuity rapidly despatched again a black-and-white picture from its downward-pointing navigation digital camera, exhibiting its bug-like shadow solid on the floor.
Then got here a uneven color video from the Perseverance rover exhibiting Ingenuity on the bottom, in flight, after which as soon as once more at relaxation.
Extra photos and a smoothed-out video are anticipated to comply with.
“We´ve been talking so long about our Wright brothers´ moment on Mars, and here it is,” mentioned lead engineer MiMi Aung to her crew, as she doled out digital hugs.
The primary powered flight on Earth was achieved by the Wright brothers in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
A bit of material from that airplane has been tucked inside Ingenuity in honour of that feat.
NASA had initially deliberate the flight for April 11 however postponed it over a software program challenge that was recognized throughout a deliberate high-speed take a look at of the plane´s rotors.
The difficulty was later resolved via the assistance of a software program replace and tweak in coding.
Ingenuity travelled to Mars hooked up to the underside of Perseverance, which touched down on the planet on February 18 on a mission to seek for indicators of extraterrestrial life.
Ingenuity´s aim, in contrast, is to show its expertise works, and it received´t contribute to Perseverance´s science objectives.
However it’s hoped that Ingenuity can pave the way in which for future flyers that revolutionize our exploration of celestial our bodies as a result of they will attain areas that rovers can´t go, and journey a lot sooner.
“We don´t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today´s results indicate the sky — at least on Mars — may not be the limit,” mentioned appearing NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.
The flight was difficult due to circumstances vastly totally different from Earth´s — an environment that has lower than one per cent the density of our personal, and the gravitational pull of solely a 3rd.
That made it vital for Ingenuity´s rotors to attain round 2,500 revolutions per minute, roughly 5 instances higher than helicopters obtain on Earth.
In addition to high-tech parts, the plane incorporates many off-the-shelf smartphone elements that have been examined in house for the primary time on this mission.
Featured picture credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.