A couple of days ago, we mentioned the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter had successfully completed its second spin test with no problems. NASA announced after that test was complete that the first flight would come shortly. NASA has shared the first video of the Ingenuity helicopter’s first flight, including takeoff and landing.
The flight was recorded by the Perseverance rover from a distance, so the helicopter is relatively small against the stark desert-like Martian landscape. If you don’t pay close attention to the helicopter taking off at the beginning of the video, it almost looks like it’s simply parked further up the hill on the ground. Ingenuity easily lifted off the ground into the Martian atmosphere, where it hovered for a few seconds before landing gently and easily back on the ground.
The flight is the first powered, controlled flight on another planet happened on April 19, 2021. The rover was parked at Van Zyl Overlook about 211 feet away from Jezero Crater to record the flight operations with cameras. The images seen in the video came from Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z cameras. The helicopter climbed to an altitude of 10 feet before hovering and returning to the surface of Mars.
NASA considers Ingenuity a technology demonstration. The helicopter itself weighs about four pounds and has large counterrotating rotors. Ingenuity was designed specifically to help NASA determine if future exploration on Mars could be conducted from the air.
The Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter landed on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021. Ingenuity was tucked away under the rover’s belly until it was deployed to the surface for the first time on April 3. Future Mars explorations will certainly expand on the flight testing NASA has conducted.