One of the most exciting experiments NASA has planned for the surface of Mars is the first helicopter flight on the Red Planet. The Perseverance rover will soon launch a small helicopter on the surface of Mars before driving a safe distance to observe the historic test flight. NASA officials believe the Ingenuity helicopter could attempt its first flight around April 8.
Ingenuity has been hidden under the deck of the Perseverance rover for almost a year. The helicopter weighs about two kilos and was safely stored in its storage space in the belly of the rover on April 6, 2020. Perseverance launched in July 2020. Mission controllers at JPL are preparing to send out commands for Perseverance, instructing you to release the Helicopter Naivety.
The first stage of the deployment was for the rover to release its debris cover, which happened on March 21, revealing the helicopter inside. The debris cover was a carbon fiber shield that protected Ingenuity from rocks and debris during landing. If Ingenuity can fly on Mars, it could change the way the Red Planet will be explored in the future.
NASA spent $ 80 million developing and building the helicopter, which is about 1.6 meters tall and counter-rotating rotors measuring about one meter from end to end. Counter-rotor rotors mean that there is no tail rotor like a traditional helicopter. NASA also has an additional $ 5 million set aside to operate the helicopter during a 31-day test campaign.
NASA notes that, although the test flight is scheduled for about April 8, the date may change as the helicopter goes through deployment and test milestones. During its first flight, the helicopter must reach an altitude of about 10 feet. It will then hover for about 30 seconds and make a turn while hovering before descending back to the surface of Mars.