Watch NASA attempt history with test flight of remote-control Mars helicopter Ingenuity
NASA will attempt to fly a remote-controlled helicopter on Mars early Monday to accomplish the first powered, controlled flight of humanity on another planet. The solar-powered, light helicopter Ingenuity made a trip to Mars on the belly of the Perseverance rover to help Ingenuity communicate with mission control and record the test flight from a distance of about 300 meters. NASA will attempt to get Ingenuity to rise to about 10 feet above the Martian surface, hover for about 20 seconds, and then land back on its airfield in Jerezo Crater.
Ingenuity is the result of six years of work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. This is the second attempt to get it in the air after a "watchdog" timer bug forced NASA to abandon a test flight on April 11th. NASA successfully tested the rotors on Friday and has a plan and backup plan for the flight on Monday, wrote MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL. If Plan A doesn't work, Perseverance Ingenuity will send an update to its flight control software, which will postpone the test flight for a few more days.
"Our team views Monday's attempted maiden flight as a rocket launch: we're doing everything we can to make it a success, but we also know we may have to scrub and try again," Aung wrote in an April 17 post. "There is always uncertainty in engineering, but that is what makes working on advanced technology so exciting and rewarding. We have to continuously innovate and develop solutions to new challenges. And we can try things that others have only dreamed of."
The test flight begins around 3:30 a.m., but the data and images won't reach Earth for a few hours. NASA's JPL is broadcasting the flight starting at 6:15 a.m. EDT, and you can watch the livestream below.
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