Back in February, NASA pulled off its ninth successful Mars landing, and now, a helicopter has managed to fly on our neighboring planet for the first time ever. Ingenuity, the helicopter that traveled with Perseverance, the rover that reached Mars two months ago, had its maiden Mars’ flight today, hovering about the planet’s surface and even taking a photo of its own shadow. (This comes after amazing photos of Mars’ surface were published in late February.)
The flight only lasted about 30 seconds but in just half a minute, Ingenuity managed to make history, as it marked the first time a power-controlled flight was successfully conducted on another planet. This opens up a world of new possibilities for discovering more about other planets, as it proves that aerial exploration is possible.
“We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet,” MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager, said to the helicopter team. “We’ve been talking so long about our Wright brothers’ moment on Mars, and here it is.”
Perseverance also managed to caption photos of Ingenuity’s voyage flight, showing the four-pound drone flying above the surface of Mars. NASA expects to also get video footage from both Ingenuity and Perseverance over the next few days, giving an even more impressive view of the flight.
Perseverance was sent to Mars to answer one massive question: was there ever life on our neighboring red planet? The rover landed near the Jezero Crater, which was chosen by NASA because it is believed to have been the home of an ancient river delta billions of years ago.
The hope is that Perseverance will be able to collect soil samples that may potentially provide evidence of past life on Mars — furthering our space exploration for decades to come. And Ingenuity could play a large role in helping Perseverance find these samples now that it has shown it can fly on Mars successfully.