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Ingenuity drone makes history on Mars

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If ten years ago we were told that in the near future NASA would take the first flight on Mars, not everyone would believe it. But the American space agency has fulfilled one of the goals of the most recent mission to the red planet and has made history.

The Ingenuity helicopter was taken to Mars alongside the Perseverance rover. At the beginning of April, the team responsible for the helicopter carried out a test on the rotation of its propellers; however it ended up finding a flaw in the command sequence that subsequently forced the team to postpone the first flight until the 19th.

On the stipulated day and with the software error corrected, Ingenuity took off for the first time. The helicopter climbed 3 meters in the air and hovered for 30 seconds until it descended and landed safely. This event took place at 8:34 (mainland Portugal).

The flight was considered a success and the space agency already has plans for more subsequent test flights, however these will only happen if the team receives authorization from the NASA administration.

Ingenuity drone makes history on Mars

In slightly more technical detail, this flight was the first time for several components never used in missions to Mars. In addition, the team also had to take into account the differences between flying on Earth and on Mars, since the red planet has an atmosphere different from ours and with only 1 percent of Earth’s atmospheric pressure.

Ingenuity’s propellers rotate much faster than any other helicopter in order to combat the mass and atmospheric differences already described. Solar panels are used to power the rotors, which gave the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab scientists one more variable, that is, it was necessary to calculate the time when the helicopter would have more energy to take off.

Although it was a short flight, it was enough to prove that flying on Mars is possible and opened the door to future concepts about planetary exploration using flying drones. Due to the event, NASA named the take-off site as Wright Brothers Field, honoring the parents of modern aviation.

Source: Engadget

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