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NASA’s original Mars helicopter begins its historic first flight in another world



In a forbidding crater on Mars, a small helicopter with a smartphone brain is now a few days away from trying to make its first powered flight in another world. NASA hopes that its rotating robotic helicopter, called Ingenuity, can prove that it can fly in the thin air of dangerous Mars and help usher in a new era of planetary exploration, in which drones play a vital role.

The ingenuity reaches Mars like a yo-yo, folded on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Rover, who landed on the Red Planet in February after a seven-month voyage of 293 million miles from Earth. For its first flight, the 4-pound, $85 million spacecraft will only rise to about 10 feet above the water, then hover (not higher than the edge of a conventional basketball hoop), and then return to the surface. The entire flight should end within 90 seconds.

Short trips-five of the one-month planned trips planned to begin around April 1

1-are short trips made by way of interplanetary travel. But officials of the agency said that this will be a huge leap in Mars exploration. They say that in the future, unmanned drones such as Ingenuity can fly into the sky and explore canyons, ice caps and other terrain that cannot be reached by rovers. If human explorers have ever landed on Mars, drones can act as scouts and aerial sensors.

“We hope that Ingenuity will enable us to expand and open up air mobility on Mars,” said Bob Balaram, project lead engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

In a series of important events at the time of Mars this year, “tact” flight is a broader mission aimed at finding traces of past lives on this red planet as part of its broader mission.


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