NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet, on Monday. “Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. “Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen declared. The 19.3-inch-tall (49-centimeter-tall) Ingenuity Mars Helicopter contains no science instruments but is intended to demonstrate whether future exploration of the Red Planet could include an aerial perspective. The helicopter team will receive and analyze all data and imagery from the test and formulate a plan for the second experimental test flight.
The helicopter’s navigation camera captured a view of the Ingenuity’s shadow on the Martian surface during its first flight.The Perseverance rover has already returned several images it captured of the helicopter.After the first flight, Ingenuity will get a “rest day” to charge up using its solar panel.