Nasa successfully flies small helicopter on Mars

Nasa successfully flies small helicopter on Mars
The chopper took this image of its own shadow on the ground. Source: NASA/JPL-CALTECH
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Daily US Times: The American space agency Nasa has successfully flown a small helicopter on Mars.

The drone is called Ingenuity and it was airborne for less than a minute. But Nasa is celebrating what represents the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another world.

Confirmation came via a satellite at Mars which relayed the data of the helicopter back to Earth.

Nasa is promising more adventurous flights in the days ahead.

Ingenuity will be commanded to fly further and higher as engineers seek to test the limits of the technology.

The rotorcraft was carried to Mars in the belly of Nasa’s Perseverance Rover, which touched down on the Red Planet in February.

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

“We’ve been talking for so long about our ‘Wright Brothers moment’ on Mars, and here it is,” the project manager added.

This is a reference to Wilbur and Orville Wright who conducted the first controlled and powered aircraft flight here on Earth in 1903.

Ingenuity even carries a small swatch of fabric from one of the wings of Flyer 1, the aircraft that made that historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, more than 117 years ago.

As the first photos of the flight arrived back on Earth, there were cheers in the JPL control centre. MiMi Aung could be heard in the background, saying: “It’s real!”

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