Getting ready for takeoff

The Mars helicopter, Ingenuity is being readied for its first flight.

The target date will be “from 8 Apr 2021” for Ingenuity to make the first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.

Before the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft can attempt its first flight, however, both it and its team must meet a series of milestones.

Ingenuity currently remains attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars Feb. 18. On March 21, the rover deployed the guitar case-shaped graphite composite debris shield that protected Ingenuity during landing. Releasing the shield allows Ingenuity to rotate down out of the belly of the rover.

Picture Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS


This image was taken by the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, located at the end of the rover’s long robotic arm.

The rover currently is in transit to an “airfield” where Ingenuity will attempt it’s flight. Once deployed, Ingenuity will have 30 Martian days, or sols, (31 Earth days) to conduct its test flight campaign.

Picture Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona


This image shows where NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter team will attempt its test flights. Helicopter engineers added the locations for the rover landing site, the airfield (the area where the helicopter will take off and return), and the flight zone (the area within which it will fly) on an image taken by the High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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