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NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Conducts First Flight Demo on Mars

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter performed its initial flight on the Red Planet and flew for a total of 39.1 seconds at an altitude of 10 feet on Monday. 

A team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) confirmed the first flight demonstration of the solar-powered helicopter after receiving data from Ingenuity through the space agency’s Perseverance Mars rover, the agency said Monday.

The rover documented the helicopter’s autonomous flight operations using its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers. The Ingenuity team developed the algorithms running on navigation, control and guidance systems aboard the helicopter.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, said the Martian field that served as the venue for the flight demo will be called the Wright Brothers Field in honor of aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright from Dayton, Ohio.

The helicopter team will analyze all imagery and data from the flight demo and come up with a plan for the second flight test that is set to take place no earlier than April 22nd. The team will assess how to expand the aircraft’s flight profile once Ingenuity carries out and survives the second experimental test.