What Happened: On Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter became the first aircraft to be flown on Mars. The solar-powered helicopter reached an altitude of 10 feet and remained airborne for 31 seconds. The helicopter flew autonomously– the flight was not controlled in real-time. This is the first time NASA has been able to achieve such a feat. Watch footage of the entire flight, captured by the Perseverance rover, below.
Why is this important: All other crafts that NASA has sent to the Red planet have been land-based. These rovers encompass the planet on land, and are not capable of flight once they land on the surface. Ingenuity’s flying capabilities open up entirely new avenues of data collection and research for NASA, from an unexplored aerial perspective.
More details: “We have been thinking for so long about having our Wright brothers moment on Mars, and here it is,” said MiMi Aung, project manager of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL. The airfield where the flight happened has now been named the Wright Brothers Field. A second test flight is scheduled to take place after 22nd April.