It has now been more than a month since NASA’s persistent rover arrived on Mars. Besides, the Mars Ingenuity helicopter has safely landed on the Red Planet, and a large portion of the rover’s first weeks have been devoted to delivering the helicopter to its test flight site. The helicopter was deployed and has since survived several cold Martian nights, but has yet to fly.
At present, the helicopter is scheduled to begin its flight test on April 11, which is next Sunday. If this timeline continues, we won’t have to wait long before we can see the first images of the first powered flight on another planet. It’s an exciting time for NASA and science fans alike, but unfortunately, we won’t actually be able to watch the flight happen in real time. Instead, we’ll have to wait until at least Monday, when NASA plans to hold a press conference To review the flight data, hopefully a picture or two will appear.
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Do not target NASA before Sunday, April 11th, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first attempt on a powered and controlled flight on another planet. To celebrate a month of Ingenuity Tours, the agency will host several events to bring people along the cruise.
A live broadcast confirming that Ingenuity’s maiden flight will begin at around 3:30 a.m. EST on Monday April 12, on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, will be broadcasting on multiple agencies’ social media platforms, including So JPL YouTube and Facebook Channels.
Preparing for the first attempt to get a man-made plane to fly on another planet takes some time. All the math was done long ago, and NASA’s Ingenuity team must be pretty confident that the mini helicopter will take off and land with relative ease, but there are external factors that can influence how things go.
Mars is known for its dust storms, and although the planet is very clear at the moment, winds across the surface are extremely common and in some cases very intense. NASA’s triple Mars weather stations could provide information that might help the space agency determine the best time to test a flight, but ultimately they won’t know the exact conditions at take-off until after the helicopter has already attempted its flight.
The helicopter will have a full month of time to demonstrate its ability to do before the device effectively ejects, and NASA hopes it can perform a number of flights during that time. Of course, this means that the plane must survive its maiden flight, and we have to wait until Monday, April 12th at least, before we know whether or not that has happened.
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