NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, is preparing for its first flight, which will hopefully happen Sunday, April 11. (Link Below)

The four-pound helicopter arrived at Mars on February 18, safely tucked inside the belly of the Perseverance rover, over 171 million miles away.

If Ingenuity’s Sunday flight is successful, it will be the first powered, guided flight on another planet.

Once testing is concluded, each flight is planned to fly at altitudes 10–16 feet above the Martian surface for up to 90 seconds each.

According to space.com, the atmosphere of Mars is only about 1/100th as dense as that of Earth at surface level, so it is much harder for an aircraft to generate lift. Liftoff from Mars' surface will be like to flying at 100,000 ft above Earth, an altitude that has never been reached by existing helicopters.

As Ingenuity is about to make history, it is also carrying a bit of history --- a piece of fabric from the wing of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Wright Brothers' airplane, the first controlled powered flight on Earth.

While Ingenuity is expected to take to flight on Sunday, the data from won't make it to Earth until early Monday morning (April 12).

NASA will livestream the flight data's arrival beginning around 2:30 a.m. CDT on Monday. You can also watch that on Space.com or directly from NASA TV.

The helicopter was named Ingenuity by Vaneeza Ruppani, a girl in the 11th grade at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, who submitted an essay into NASA's "Name the Rover" contest.

 

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