A NASA helicopter has landed on Mars. Attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover, the four-pound Ingenuity micro copter was parachuted onto the planet’s surface at Jezero Crater on Thursday afternoon following a flight that began at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 30, 2020. "The Ingenuity team has done everything to test the helicopter on Earth, and we are looking forward to flying our experiment in the real environment at Mars," said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
The coaxial rotor Ingenuity is equipped with four carbon fiber main rotor blades and is powered by solar cells and batteries. It does not carry scientific instruments. The aircraft is designed to operate in the extreme climate of the Red Planet, where temperatures can fall to -130 degrees F and the gravity is 62 percent lower than Earth’s.
In the coming weeks, NASA will run a variety of diagnostic tests on the helicopter to verify its ability to autonomously warm and charge itself before beginning a limited flight campaign anticipated for later this spring. Ingenuity will fly based on a series of commands and autonomously determine how to fly to a waypoint, according to NASA.