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Ingenuity Becomes The First Craft To Make A Powered, Controlled Flight On Another Planet

A look at Ingenuity's historic first flight on the red planet.

By Chris Wilkinson Tue 20 Apr, 2021 5:52 PM
Prosperity, the most recent rover which was sent to Mars, has already sent some interesting new optics and a look at a different experience to us back here on Earth. We've been able to hear the sound of the wind on Mars, but one of the most intriguing parts of the missions is the Ingenuity Helicopter, which was originally carried underneath the rover.

For the past few weeks, this helicopter which is equipped with its own solar panel on top to provide it with power, and is actually quite small, has been jus 'sitting' on the surface, to see how it coped with the harsh Martian atmosphere.

The world has been waiting to hear whether this experiment would come to life and become the first human made object to fly within the Martian atmosphere. As they were running through the tests however, there was a problem as the system was moving into flight mode.NASA360I

The original flight date was the 14th of April but NASA pushed this back until they could figure out what was wrong.

The issue was finally discovered during an aborted high-speed rotor test. When the system was to move from pre-flight to flight, it was aborted by a built in watchdog timer. The team continued looking into the issue for a few days to make sure that this part of the mission could continue.

Working on the overall fix, Jet Propulsion Laboratory decided it would require changing some of the software on Ingenuity and then reinstalling the operating system through the Rover. In the end, the solution also required changing the sequence which Ingenuity used to start up.

Less than a day ago, all of the hard work would have seemed to pay off as NASA announced "NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021. The Ingenuity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California determined that the flight was successful after receiving data from both the helicopter and the Perseverance Mars rover."

The current plan is to run a number of flights over a 30 Sol period with Prosperity taking pictures and video footage of these. It’ll then continue its own mission leaving this pioneering piece of technology on its own.

Perhaps they should’ve looked to keep Ingenuity with Prosperity for the long term as it could give them a much better vantage point if they need aerial footage.

What do you think of this experiment? Let us know in the comments below.

WRITTEN BY Chris Wilkinson


Tue 20 Apr, 2021 10:34 PM
This is so awesome, the word awesome feels embarrassed for being inadequate to express the awesome awesomeness of this achievement! Not just the fact that they did it, but also the implications for the future. Finally the dream of exploring an entire alien planet by sending a swarm of drones there and having them fly over the surface recording every minute detail in utltra high resolution imaging can enter the planning stage, and can soon be realized. Imagine all the planets we're interested in, available to us all in a streetview like manner.... What's not awesome about that??
So yeah.... i got pretty excited when i got the news!
Wed 21 Apr, 2021 2:08 AM
I agree deuZige, this really is historic.
Wed 21 Apr, 2021 6:25 AM
Let's just hope there aren't Martians who have rules against flying drones XD but yeah this is do cool and when I heard it was successful I was really happy