NASA will attempt first off-world flight in early April
Right now, the ultra-light aircraft remains fixed to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on the Red Planet on 18 February
NASA is targeting early April for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet, the space agency said Tuesday.
Right now, the ultra-light aircraft remains fixed to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on the Red Planet on February 18.
On Sunday, Perseverance dropped the debris shield that had protected Ingenuity during landing, and is currently making its way to the "airfield" where Ingenuity will attempt its flights.
Once there, it will have 30 Martian sols -- equal to 31 Earth days -- to carry out its mission.
"The best guess we have right now is April 8," for the first flight, said Bob Balaram, Mars Helicopter chief engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, though he added it could be sooner or later by a few days.
Balaram revealed for the first time that Ingenuity is carrying a small piece of cloth that covered one of the wings of the Wright brothers' first aircraft that achieved the first powered flight on Earth at Kitty Hawk in 1903, to pay tribute to the milestone.