In a rough crater on Mars, a tiny helicopter with an intelligent brain attempted to experience another world days after its first powered flight. NASA hopes that a gigantic robotic propeller dubbed Ingenuity will demonstrate that flyby is possible in extremely thin Mars air and open a new era of planetary exploration in which drones play an important role.
Creativity reached Mars like a stowaway traveler folded at the bottom of NASA’s persistent Rover. Landed on the red planet in February Seven months later, a journey of 293 million miles from Earth. On its maiden flight, the $ 85 million 4-pound car was simply flying 10 feet above the roof and hovering – no higher than the edge of the basketball hoop – before returning to the roof. The entire journey should be completed within 90 seconds.
A short voyage – one of five planned one-month trips expected to begin on or around April 11th – is a short jump in measures of interplanetary travel. But agency officials said it would be a huge leap to explore Mars. In the future, drones like Ingenuity can fly through the sky to explore canyons, ice caps, and other terrain that is inaccessible to rovers. When human explorers land on Mars, drones can act as scouts and air sensors.
“We hope with creativity that we can expand and open up aerial mobility on Mars,” said Bob Ballaram, chief project engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The creativity journey, part of a wider mission for Look for signs of past life on the red planetIt is the latest in a wave of notable Mars moments this year.