“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”– Socrates
NASA lands its first helicopter on the red planet and here’s how it went; The brief demonstration of the experimental vehicle Ingenuity demonstrates how explorers can explore the Red planet from the sky as well as on the ground.
The milestone adds to NASA’s long and illustrious list of firsts on Mars. During the celebration, MiMi Aung, the project manager for Ingenuity, told her colleagues, “We flew to Mars together.” “And now we have this Wright Brothers moment as a group.”
Furthermore, Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles erupted in applause and cheering after engineering results returned from Mars indicated that the 4-pound (1.8-kg) solar-powered helicopter had completed its inaugural 39-second flight three hours earlier as scheduled.
The flight, like Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first airplane flight in 1903, did not go very far or last very long, but it demonstrated what could be achieved. Flying in Mars’ thin atmosphere was an especially difficult technological challenge, bordering on the unlikely due to the lack of air to drive against. To get Ingenuity off the ground to save it from drifting off and falling, NASA engineers used ultralight fabrics, fast-spinning blades, and high-powered computer processing.
Project managers have viewed the first photographs from the flight during NASA’s live-streamed coverage of the event from JPL headquarters.
While the helicopter was on the wing, a black-and-white photo taken by a downward-pointing onboard camera revealed Ingenuity’s distinct shadow cast in the Martian sunlight onto the ground just below it. A snippet of color video footage taken by a separate camera installed on NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, which was parked about 200 feet away, shows the helicopter in motion across an orange-colored desert.
Despite the genericness of the aircraft, it was a heritage-listed achievement in inter-planetary aviation, on the ground of a huge Martian basin called Jezero Crater, 173 million miles from Earth.
Ingenuity provides a modern means of transportation, as well as leading to a revolution in the way people and products speed around the world, which NASA will also use in studying the wonders of the solar system. Future robotic explorers, with this technology under the agency’s belt can take different, unorthodox shapes of discovery.
Also, this fact can’t be ignored that Ingenuity was also something different for NASA — a high-risk, high-reward project with a modest price tag where failure was an acceptable outcome!
Perhaps with all this, humanity may be closer to life on Mars?
Written by: Shermeen Rehman
Reported by: Ehtisham