NASA's Mars helicopter makes first flight on another planet

Source: Politico | April 19, 2021 | Associated Press

Flight controllers in California confirmed Ingenuity’s brief hop after receiving data via the Perseverance rover, which stood watch more than 200 feet away.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the planet’s thin air on Monday, achieving the first powered flight on another planet.

The triumph was hailed as a Wright Brothers moment. The mini 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) copter named Ingenuity, in fact, carried a bit of wing fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, which made similar history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

“Altimeter data confirms that Ingenuity has performed its first flight, the first flight of a powered aircraft on another planet,” said the helicopter’s chief pilot back on Earth, Havard Grip, his voice breaking as his teammates erupted in cheers.

Flight controllers in California confirmed Ingenuity’s brief hop after receiving data via the Perseverance rover, which stood watch more than 200 feet (65 meters) away. Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on Perseverance, clinging to the rover’s belly upon their arrival in an ancient river delta in February.

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