Nasa’s Ingenuity makes history with first controlled flight on Mars

Abbianca Makoni
·2-min read
Nasa's Ingenuity helicopter (PA Media)
Nasa's Ingenuity helicopter (PA Media)

Nasa has made history after its Mars helicopter made the first-ever flight on another planet, the space agency has announced.

The ultra-light helicopter, called Ingenuity, successfully took flight on the red planet on Monday, hovering in the air at about 10 feet before touching back down on the Martian surface.

It marks Nasa’s first and completed attempt at a powered, controlled flight on another planet.

The flight took place around 7.30am but the news, which was met by cheers and applause at mission control, was announced hours later.

Graphic showing the helicopterPA Graphics
Graphic showing the helicopterPA Graphics

MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said: “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet.”

The aircraft, which weights 1.8kg on Earth but 0.68kg on Mars, is part of a technology demonstration – a project that aims to test a new capability for the first time.

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Data from the first flight returned to Earth a few hours after the autonomous test.

Pictures showed a shadow of Ingenuity hovering above the planet’s surface, and a video showed it grounded on the surface.

The major achievement comes after the original flight date of April 11 was delayed because engineers had to work on pre-flight checks and a sequence issue, reported Sky News.

Nasa’s Perseverance rover provided support during flight operations, capturing images and collecting data as well as hosting the base station that enabled Nasa to see the helicopter’s mission.

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And its Twitter account has been celebrating the news since it was announced.

More images and video of the landing are expected to be published on the account.

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