NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will make the first attempt at powered flight on another planet this morning – Monday, April 19 at 10:15 (GMT).
Ahead of the event, NASA has released a live stream of the helicopter team in mission control as they receive the data and find out if they were successful.
Watch NASAs Live Stream of the first flight from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s carbon fiber blades can be seen in this video taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover earlier this month.
The video was taken on April 8, 2021, the 48th Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
You can clearly see the four blades are arranged into two 4-foot-long (1.2-meter-long) counter-rotating rotors that can spin at roughly 2,400 rpm.
In the video, NASA were testing the blades by performing a wiggle test before the actual spin-up to ensure they were working properly.
About the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
Ingenuity weighs about 4 pounds (1.8kg) on Earth, but that is only about 1.5 pounds (0.68kg) on Mars.
Once fully deployed the craft stands 1.6 feet (0.49m) high and has four specially made carbon fiber blades are arranged into two 4-foot-long (1.2m long) counter-rotating rotors that spin at roughly 2,400 rpm. A solar array on top of the rotor system charges six lithium-ion batteries.
Ingenuity’s fuselage is only 5.4 inches by 7.7 inches by 6.4 inches (13cm by 19cm by 16.3cm).
She has four carbon composite landing legs, each 1.26 feet (0.384m) long, giving the helicopter about 5 inches (13 cm) of clearance above the ground making it similar in size to a consumer drone.
What is Ingenuity mission?
The Perseverance’s mission – of which Ingenuity is a part – is all about astrobiology.
The craft will help NASA search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The rover will explore the planet’s geology and past climate – paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Importantly this will be the first mission to collect and store Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) allowing future missions to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The mission is the first in a new strategy from NASA – nicknamed the Moon to Mars exploration approach – which includes Artemis missions to the Moon. This will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.