National Areonautics and Space Administration, NASA, has marked a major milestone in its extraterrestrial exploration programme, with the first-powered flight of an aircraft on Mars.
NASA, a U.S. government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space. The Space Age started in 1957 with the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik.
NASA is the first-ever flight of a powered vehicle on Mars by any organization.
The flight occurred Tuesday morning, and NASA received telemetry confirming that the “Ingenuity” helicopter it sent to Mars with its Perseverance rover took flight.
The drone, called Ingenuity, was airborne for less than a minute, but Nasa is celebrating what represents the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another world.
Confirmation came via a satellite at Mars which relayed the chopper’s data back to Earth.
The space agency is promising more adventurous flights in the days ahead.
Ingenuity will be commanded to fly higher and further as engineers seek to test the limits of the technology.
The rotorcraft was carried to Mars in the belly of Nasa’s Perseverance Rover, which touched down in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet in February.
Ingenuity has to rotate its rotor at a super-fast 2,500 RPM, for instance, compared to around 400 to 500 RPM for a helicopter on Earth, because of how thin the atmosphere is on Mars, which produced significant technical challenges.
By this, it has set up future exploration missions, making it possible for NASA to use aerial vehicles for future science on the red planet. It can explore things like caves and peaks that rovers can’t reach, for instance.
NASA is also hoping to see if there’s potential for use of aerial vehicles in future human exploration of Mars, too — Martian explorers would benefit significantly from being able to use aircraft as well as ground vehicles when we eventually get there.
NASA in its official handle on Tuesday, April 20 tweeted ”Brian Cizek, launch weather officer of the @SpaceForceDoD 45th Weather Squadron, provides the launch forecast for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 liftoff from @NASAKennedy: an 80% chance of favorable weather on April 22, and a 90% chance of favorable weather on April 23.
“The crew arm is extended, exactly where the crew will walk across and get into their vehicle to go to space.” — Benji Reed of @SpaceX describes aerial views of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft at @NASAKennedy‘s historic Launch Complex 39A.
“The [Crew Dragon] capsule that we’re going to fly is a reused capsule that Bob and Doug flew on Demo-2, and then, the first stage was used by Crew-1. So it’s kind of exciting to see all those 3 missions in that one vehicle at the pad.” — Steve Stich, manager of @Commercial_Crew.’’