The NASA helicopter took a piece of the Wright Brothers plane to Mars

The Ingenuity helicopter sits under the belly of the Perseverance rover on Mars.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

NASA has followed the line of their innovation Ingenuity Mars helicopter all the way back to the historic maiden flight that Orville and Wilbur Wright made at Kitty Hawk in 1903. A tiny one A piece of cloth from the famous Wright plane is now on the red planet, hidden under the Ingenuity solar panel.

In a NASA briefing on TuesdayIngenuity’s chief engineer, Bob Balaram, unveiled the surprise package, which he described as the size of a postage stamp. The unbleached muslin material that comes from a wing cover creates a link between the first powered, controlled flight on Earth and the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Ingenuity could take off as early as April 8, but must first be delivered by the Perseverance rover to its Mars airfield. It will also go through an extensive series of controls before attempting to take off and hover about 10 feet above the planet’s surface.

The Perseverance Rover is a few days from the helicopter drop-off point, a relatively flat and clear area in the Jezero crater. once Ingenuity unfolds When the rover is parked on the ground, it gently moves away to make sure the rotary wing’s solar panel is powering the batteries and keeping it warm in the cold night.

The rotary wing aircraft’s mission is said to last 31 Earth days, but the first night can be the most critical. “While it will be a huge challenge to operate on the surface, surviving that first night on Mars alone without the rover protecting and powering it will be an even bigger challenge.” said Balaram.

This annotated image of Mars shows Ingenuity’s airfield and flight zone in Jezero Crater.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

The rover will set up a shop at a lookout point to try to capture pictures and videos of Ingenuits’ short maiden flight.

If the initial hovering exercise goes well, NASA will try longer and higher flights. The entire flight zone extends over an area of ‚Äč‚Äčaround 90 meters, which means that Ingenuity offers plenty of space to stretch its leaves if necessary.

The 1.8 kg helicopter is a technology demonstration, an experiment that could show whether this type of flight is even possible under the difficult conditions of Mars. The planet’s thin atmosphere and stormy winds make it a challenge for Ingenuity to operate. If it works, it could open doors for new forms of exploration of other worlds.

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