Flight on Mars

Flight on Mars

Alexander Lindamood, Staff Writer

     NASA Helicopter Ingenuity took flight into the martian sky today (April 19th). While its 39.1-second long flight only brought it 10 feet above the surface where it hovered, it’s still historic. The tiny solar-powered craft flew totally on its own with almost no input from Earth.  

     The red planet has a third of Earth’s gravity and has an incredibly thin atmosphere. These unique conditions make the flight more difficult. Despite this, the little craft flew. None once, not twice, but three times. Its most recent flight on the 25th of April took it to 17 feet into the air where it full-throttled its engine for 2 meters before reuniting with the ground. 

      With the success of flight of ingenuity on mars, new ways of transport have been opened. Helicopters on mars will be able to transport samples from previous rover missions like curiosity and bring them to ships on a return trip to earth. Far into the future when humans have stepped on mars, helicopters may be the fastest way to traverse the harsh and rocky Martian landscape. 

     These flights have been so monumental and so important that they’ve been compared to the first flight performed by the Wright brothers. 

     “Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” Zurbuchen, the associate director of Science Mission Directorate at Nasa 

      He announced this in a press release as ingenuity landed back onto the martian surface for the first time on April 19th. 

“While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked. As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration,” said Zurbuchen.

 

Two more flights are scheduled for the little helicopter that could. One taking place on April 28th and the other taking place on May 1st. After these two final flights, its month-long mission will come to an end. 

 

With a 7 month travel time and decades in development, it will be a while till another rover and aircraft land onto the martian surface. While the rovers slowly trudge across the red sand and helicopters briefly fly into the martian sky, humans slowly prepare for life on Mars.