(Houston, TX) — History has been made as NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter carried out the first powered flight on another planet. The flight took place around 12:30 Eastern time but data didn’t reach Earth until three hours later. An image showed the shadow of the helicopter on the surface of the red planet as it hovered in the then atmosphere.
"We've been talking for so long about our Wright brothers moment. And here it is."
— NASA (@NASA) April 19, 2021
Video from the nearby Perseverance lander showed the helicopter hovering three meters above the surface.
The four-pound helicopter first arrived on the Martian surface February 18th with its parent, the Perseverance rover.
It was hoping to do the flight last week, but ran into problems.
The Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, hitched a ride to Mars on the Perseverance rover. For the first flight, the helicopter took off a few feet from the ground, hovered in the air for about 20 to 30 seconds, and landed. That’s a major milestone: the very first powered flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars. After that, the team will attempt additional experimental flights of incrementally farther distance and greater altitude. After the helicopter completes its technology demonstration, Perseverance will continue its scientific mission.