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Up 9 Feet, for 30 Seconds. NASA Aims for History

But Ingenuity helicopter's flight on Mars is pushed back at least a few days
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2021 11:15 AM CDT
Updated Apr 10, 2021 11:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – The flight won't last very long, maybe 30 seconds or so. And it won't go very high, say 9 or 10 feet. But assuming NASA can pull it off, an upcoming flight by the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars will be historic nonetheless—it will be the first time an aircraft has flown on a planet other than Earth, notes a post at NASA. The 4-pound craft was originally scheduled to take off Sunday night, but NASA announced Saturday that the mission has been pushed back until at least Wednesday, reports CNN. One challenge of note when Ingenuity does take off: The Martian atmosphere is only 1% dense as that of our own, meaning the helicopter "must provide more lift than it would need to fly on Earth," per Space.com.

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Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on the recently arrived Perseverance rover, and the historic flight could open new avenues for exploring planets with drones and the like, notes Axios. If all goes well, the helicopter will capture images from its vantage point above the surface of the planet. "Naturally the team is working really hard to be ready for that moment [of flight], so when we see that first data, that it works … it will be an incredible moment," says NASA's Tim Canham, in charge of Ingenuity operations. The helicopter is scheduled to take several more flights over the next month. (Read more Mars stories.)

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