Mars Helicopter Drops 4 Inches to an Alien Soil, Flight Imminent

Perseverance takes a photo of the Ingenuity helicopter 1 photo
On April 4, the insect-like Mars helicopter separated from the Perseverance rover that carried it to the planet. It is now fully-deployed on the Martian ground, awaiting the green light from Earth to start spinning its blades.
Yesterday JPL confirmed the helicopter touched down on the Martian surface after it gently fell the 4 inches (101 mm) that still separated from the ground. Now, JPL says, the Ingenuity is waiting to see if it makes it through the nights ahead so that the next milestones in taking it airborne can be reached.

The machine now sits inside the 33-by-33-foot (10-by-10-meter) area of Mars chosen to become the take-off and landing pad. In a few days’ time, probably no sooner than April 11, Ingenuity will take to the skies, marking the first time in the history of the world when a helicopter-type aircraft operates in an atmosphere other than that of Earth.

If successful, the mission opens up a few interesting possibilities. Presently, the exploration of other worlds is done either through orbiting satellites or rovers on the ground. That means we get a sense of Mars either from too far away or from too close for comfort.

Miniature helicopters buzzing around would provide mission planners with a bird’s-eye view of whatever area is targeted and much more juicy details.

Ingenuity is not a big machine. It weighs just four pounds (1.8 kg) thanks to the lightweight materials used for making it and has a rotor diameter of 4 feet (1.2 meters). The rotor will spin at 2,537 rpm and allow the helicopter to climb at a rate of about 3 feet per second (1 meter per second). The highest the thing is scheduled to fly is 10 feet (3 meters).

The plan is to have it up in the air for 30 seconds, the most important seconds in the history of alien worlds exploration efforts.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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