Sometime soon, we will all get to witness the first Mars flight by an aircraft. That may even happen later this week. What’s going to happen? The Ingenuity mini-helicopter, sent to the Red Planet aboard the Mars Perseverance rover, is getting ready to fly. It’ll be the first aircraft ever to do so.
The Ingenuity helicopter deployed on Mars, as seen through the Perseverance camera. This is a technology demonstrator that will be used to assess the use of other aircraft and rotorcraft on the Red Planet in the future. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
It has already taken its first picture of the ground (below), as a prelude to the imaging it will do in flight. Early flights will be short hops. Eventually, mission scientists hope to use it to do some ‘scouting ahead’ on the terrain. That will allow the rover to pursue long-term trips across the surface. The ultimate goal of the mission includes the search for clues to past (and maybe present) life and the existence of water on the Red Planet.
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