NASA’s has successfully conducted the test flight of it miniature robot helicopter “Ingenuity” on the surface of Mars. This marks the first flight of an aircraft by humans on another planet in the solar system.
The event was live streamed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles. During the event the first images from the flight were also displayed.
Altimeter readings from the rotorcraft showed that it became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (0734 GMT), climbed as programmed to a height of 10 feet (3 meters), then hovered steadily in place over the Martian surface for half a minute before touching back down safely on its four legs. The data confirmed that the 4-pound (1.8-kg) solar-powered helicopter had performed its maiden 39-second flight on the surface of the red planet.
Despite the shortness of the flight, it marked a historic feat in interplanetary aviation, taking place on an “air field” 173 million miles from Earth on the floor of a vast Martian basin called Jezero Crater. As a tribute to the Wright brothers, NASA engineers affixed a tiny swath of wing fabric from the original Wright flyer under Ingenuity’s solar panel before sending it on its way to Mars.