Take a flight above Mars with Ingenuity

August 27, 2021

It might not be a UFO, but humanity has created the first known extraterrestrial aircraft with Ingenuity.

The 1.8kg copter hitched a ride to Mars with the Perseverance rover, the flagship of NASA's Mars 2020 mission.

A colour photo overlooking the Martian landscape from aboard Ingenuity. Ingenuity's metal foot can be seen in one corner.
View from Ingenuity's colour camera on Flight 12, Aug. 16, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Its job is to scout Jezero Crater from above, identifying the best routes for the rover along with points of interest for Percy's rock sampling objectives.

Ingenuity's 12 outings to date are the first-ever powered flights on another planet, no mean feat given Mars' negligible air resistance.

To lift off, the rover needed to be built incredibly light, with long, wide blades that spin incredibly fast.

Ingenuity was launched as a technology demonstration; in that regard, it's been an unmitigated success. Expect to see more missions with autonomous aircraft, particularly the promising Dragonfly mission to Titan.

Ingenuity's mission continues, as Perseverance continues its search for samples that will eventually return to Earth.

Sources and further reading:

Flight 12 View of South Séítah at NASA

Better by the dozen: Ingenuity Takes on Flight 12 at NASA

Mars Helicopter Overview at NASA

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