The Creativity Helicopter managed to fly briefly 10 feet on Mars, becoming the first powered aircraft to do so on another planet, an achievement that NASA compared to the Wright Brothers’ plane in 1903 in North Carolina, USA. .
At 4:34 AM EST, the 1.8 kg spacecraft rose three meters above the surface of Mars and landed 39.1 seconds later.
Data and images of the autonomous flight were transferred to Earth, 278 million kilometers away, Where it was received by the ground antennas of the US Space Agency and processed after more than three hours.
In that first photo, his shadow was captured in black and white, “while it was floating on Mars on April 19, 2021, during the first controlled and powered flight to another planet,” NASA posted on its website.
The nervous and anticipated engineers seen on their screens at the California Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), as the mission has been designed and planned over the past six years, They started applauding when the news broke.
One of them read the list of tasks that the helicopter had carried out and concluded that: “Creativity made its first flight, the first flight of a powered plane to another planet.”
And NASA stated that this initial flight was independent and guided “by the guidance, navigation and control systems on board.” That power the algorithms developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team.
Because data must be sent back from the red planet over hundreds of millions of miles using satellites orbiting space and NASA’s deep space network, Creativity cannot be conveyed with a joystick, nor is its journey noticeable from the ground in real time. ”
The helicopter flight schedule was chosen taking into account the climate on Mars.
The flight was challenging because the air on Mars is very “thin”, less than 1% of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.“
For this reason, height was considered one of the challenges of the mission, despite the force of gravity which is one-third of the force of Earth’s gravity.
The helicopter traveled to Mars attached to the underside of the Perseverance craft that landed on the planet on February 18th on a mission to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Perseverance sent out a color video showing the helicopter taking off and landing shortly thereafter.
The US Space Agency compared this achievement on Monday to the first powered flight on Earth, made by the Wright brothers in 1903 in North Carolina, USA. The ingenuity wears a piece of cloth from Wright’s plane in honor of that first flight.
Agence France-Presse reported: “We have talked about our Wright brothers’ moment on Mars for a long time, and it is now.”
even in, The site where this first voyage was made has been baptized as “The Wright Brothers Field”“In honor of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright,” explained on his Twitter account, the head of scientific missions at NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen.
“While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles in space, they will now be forever linked,” he said.
It also became known later that the International Civil Aviation Organization designated Ingenuity with the three letters GY-1, “Position: JZRO for Jezero Crater,” added #MarsHelicopter captain Hvard Grip captain.
Hazaa from NASA
The space agency had scheduled the flight for April 11, but postponed it due to a software problem. The problem was identified during a high-speed test of the helicopter’s rotors, and the issue was resolved through a software update and changing the computer code.
As opposed to perseverance, Ingenuity’s goal is simply to prove that its technology works, And not contributing to the scientific objectives of the mission to better understand the properties of Mars.
The helicopter is expected to pave the way for future spacecraft to revolutionize celestial body exploration by reaching areas where rovers cannot go and do so faster.
Ingenuity was deployed to its flight zone on April 3 and is now on the 16th solar Mars from the 30th Martian flight test window (31 Earth days).
The team will continue to receive and analyze data for the next few days, and then plan a second flight that will not be earlier than April 22.
“We will take a moment to celebrate our success and then take the example of Orville and Wilbur (Wright) in terms of what to do next,” Ong said.
Mars from all angles
“Innovation is the latest in a long and legendary tradition of NASA projects that fulfill the goal of space exploration that was previously thought impossible,” said Steve Gorshik, Acting NASA Administrator.
He explained, “The X-15 was a pioneer in the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and his Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where this innovation will take us, but today’s results suggest that may not be the sky, at least.” On Mars, it is the limit. “
For this reason, this small NASA “third dimension” helicopter came to Mars exploration.