Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet.
The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).
“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”
In this video captured by NASA’s Perseverance rover, the agency’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took the first powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS
The first helicopter on Mars is officially on Martian soil.
NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity touched down on the surface of the Red Planet after being dropped by its mother ship, the Perseverance rover, the space agency announced late Saturday (April 3). The helicopter’s first flight is just over a week away.
The Ingenuity helicopter, which landed on Mars this week via the Perseverance rover, runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, while the rover itself has similar power to early iMacs.
Mars has a new inhabitant: the Snapdragon.
The common Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which powers most of the Android smartphones in the US, is running inside Ingenuity, an autonomous drone now on Mars, Qualcomm says. It arrived on the Red Planet yesterday via the Perseverance rover (which uses a processor similar to those you’d find in early iMacs), and will be our first attempt to fly something in the atmosphere of Mars.