Story at a glance

  • NASA made history by launching a miniature helicopter to fly above the surface of Mars.
  • This is the first guided flight on another planet.
  • Scientists hope that the successful flight will aid NASA in accelerating its exploration of Mars to look for signs of life.

NASA made history Monday by launching a miniature helicopter to fly above the surface of Mars, the first guided flight on another planet.

The historic event occurred at 3:30 a.m. EDT about 178 million miles from Earth on the Jezero Crater basin of Mars. It required the 4-pound helicopter to ascend 10 feet above the surface of Mars before rotating and then proceeding to land on all four legs, lasting 30 seconds total. 


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The controlled flight required Ingenuity, the helicopter, to enact all flight procedures autonomously.

Though Mars has less gravity than Earth, it is 1 percent as dense, posing potential challenges to a takeoff and landing. Engineers crafted Ingenuity with 4-foot propellers that spin faster than those needed on Earth to aid in the flight.

Scientists hope that the successful flight will aid NASA in accelerating its exploration of Mars to look for signs of life.


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Published on Apr 19, 2021