Samuel Lozano Fornari // Staff reporter
The worldwide known space agency “NASA” has accomplished the first flight on Mars.
The “helicopter” was the drone “Ingenuity” that managed to elevate itself around 3 meters over the Red Planet’s surface. The drone’s flight lasted around 39 seconds and managed to do a perfect landing just after he stopped flying.
The success of the flight was celebrated by the team responsible of this mission, that was first initiated in 2013, when the director of JPL, Charles Elachi thought about the possibility of a helicopter in Mars. The 7 years were not easy, Ingenuity is the result of hard work by all the scientists in the team.
Flying in Mars was a tough mission, as the atmosphere in Mars is about 1% of the density of the one in the Earth. This lack of air resistance, that allows the flight of a helicopter, had to be compensated by really low weights and an extremely fast rotation of the blades.
The helicopter cost was about $85 million US, and it was “considered high risk yet high reward” says The associated Press in the article “NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter makes historic 1st flight in Mars”.
The helicopter had 2 cameras, a full-color camera pointing to the horizon, and one black and white camera that points right below it, allowing the drone to “know where it is”. This is necessary because of the huge distance between Mars and the Earth, that creates a delay between what we see and what is happening. That is the main reason the drone cannot be controlled manually by a human.
Although this has been the first flight, NASA is not satisfied, and has programed at least 4 more flights in the next week. They are still collecting data from this first flight, but they have not doubted about doing more flights as soon as the drone is able to.
The importance of this success is the new things that NASA will be able to do if they keep researching. They hope to create bigger and better models, things that would help space exploration, as the quadrotors are able to go to places where the rovers cannot.
This investigation could lead to future helicopters able of transporting rovers, and even humans, that is why a lot of people have called this flight a “historical moment.”
Some time after they confirmed the success, the Perseverance (the rover that transported the drone), sent a video to the central, and it is public now:
“Nasa successfully flies small helicopter on Mars” by Jonathan Amos
“NASA’s Mars helicopter takes its first flight” by Ashley Strickland, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Meg Wagner,
“NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter makes historic 1st flight on Mars“ by The Associated Press