NASA made aviation history on Mars on Monday. Catch up on coverage of Ingenuity's historic first flight.
NASA achieved the "first powered, controlled flight on another planet" on Monday, when its Ingenuity helicopter rose off the surface of Mars. Now that history has been made, NASA is eager to tell us all about it.
NASA has set an Ingenuity postflight briefing for 11 a.m. PT today when the helicopter team will share the latest on the aviation accomplishment that took place on the red planet.
The small rotorcraft hitched a ride to Mars under the belly of the Perseverance rover, which dropped it off on the surface to fend for itself. The two machines posed for a scenic picture together. The rover acted as a witness to Ingenuity's flight.
The flight attempt was delayed from its original date of April 11 to give NASA time to update the machine's software after a spin test of the rotors ended too early. The helicopter later successfully completed a rapid spin test, an important milestone that cleared the way for liftoff.
The agency livestreamed coverage of Ingenuity's effort on NASA TV early Monday. It wasn't like watching a sporting event with live footage, but the NASA helicopter team celebrated after getting the good news beamed back from Mars. You can catch the rerun here:
"The rover will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth," NASA said in a statement in early April.
NASA has emphasized that Ingenuity is a high-risk, high-reward technology demonstration. It is now officially delivering the reward. NASA has set the planned test flight period to last for up to 31 Earth days, and more flights could be scheduled soon. The agency is currently looking at no sooner than April 22 for a second test flight.
There's a good-luck talisman along for the ride. Ingenuity has a tiny piece of the Wright Brothers' famous Flyer attached to it, drawing a direct line between the making of aviation history on both Earth and Mars.
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