NASA’S helicopter, Ingenuity, rose from the dusty red surface of Mars early Monday morning to become the first aircraft to take off on another planet.
The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) helicopter hovered 3 meters over the Martian surface, at that point contacted down, as indicated by NASA. Exuberant applause and cheers erupted in the operations center in California when achievement was announced.
“This is real! This is real!” project manager MiMi Aung said during the brief flight. “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet.”
In what was hailed as a Wright Brothers second, the copter even carried a bit of wing texture from the 1903 Wright Flyer, which made comparable history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Talking on a NASA webcast early Monday, Aung considered it “ultimate dream.”
Flight regulators affirmed Ingenuity’s fete in the wake of receiving data by means of the Perseverance rover, standing watch more than 200 feet (65 meters) away.
The first black and white photo showed Ingenuity’s shadow as it drifted over the surface of Mars. At that point came the color images of the helicopter descending back to the surface, taken by Perseverance.
Creativity showed up at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, appended to the underside of Perseverance.
The copter stands 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) tall with four spindly legs, and its fuselage, containing its batteries, heaters and sensors, is the size of a tissue box. The helicopter’s greatest pieces, its pair of carbon-fiber, foam-filled rotors, each stretch 4 feet (1.2 meters) tip to tip.
The $85 million helicopter demo was viewed as high risk, at this point high reward.
“Each world gets only one first flight,” Aung noted earlier this month.
A news conference is planned 11 a.m. PST on Monday.
The Mars rover will provide extra support during the flight operation and will take pictures while collecting environmental data. The meanderer likewise hosts the base station that “enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth,” NASA said.
Up to five helicopter flights are arranged, and Ingenuity’s team has until the start of May to finish them so the wanderer can continue ahead with its main mission: collecting rock samples that could hold evidence of past Martian life.
The helicopter was at first set to take off on April 11, however the flight was postponed because of a timing glitch in the helicopter’s systems.