NASA lands first ever helicopter on Mars

Brady Cicero, Page Editor

Ingenuity, the name of the first helicopter to ever land on Mars, hitched a ride with the Perseverance Rover, which both landed together on Feb. 18, 2021. With Ingenuity, NASA was the first to perform the first helicopter flight on another planet. 

NASA originally planned the rover to test its blades on April 11, but a software issue found in the helicopter’s computer on April 9, (Sol 49) prompted the Mars team at NASA to delay the helicopter’s test flight until the week after April 11. 

The Ingenuity Team hypothesized many different solutions to Ingenuity’s computer issue. The most practical solution is to reinstall Ingenuity’s flight software, and provide the helicopter with software updates that allowed it to have a safe and successful flight. The Ingenuity team at NASA also plans on adding modifications to the flight software of Ingenuity, and these modifications are being reviewed and tested at JPL. (NASA) 

Ingenuity has to pass a lot of tests in order to fly, but the team at NASA feels confident that they can fix the software problems, and finally perform the first helicopter flight on Mars. All of Ingenuity’s critical systems, such as communications, and power, are stable. It is not uncommon for these systems to need a little maintenance work, and the team at NASA had to fix all the issues that the software previously has. (NASA) 

On Monday, April 19, Ingenuity became the first aircraft to fly on another planet. The helicopter became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT. The helicopter climbed to a level of three meters and was able to sustain a stable hover for 30 seconds. Ingenuity then made its way safely back to the ground with a total of 39.1 seconds of flight time. (NASA) This is only the first of many planned flights for Ingenuity. The NASA team plans to continue this monumental technological demonstration that will advance human knowledge for our own exploration of Mars.