NASA: Ingenuity Mars helicopter completes controlled flight

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A video from NASA’s Perseverance Rover, which was stationed tens of metres away, shows the hop from Ingenuity. In the video, one can see the small helicopter jump into the air before touching down.

Ingenuity was only in the air for less than a minute, completing lift off, hover and land.

The Ingenuity helicopter span its propellers at 24,000 RPM to lift off on the morning of April 19.

On Earth, helicopters have an RPM of around 400, but more is needed on Mars as the atmosphere is so thin – just one percent that of Earth’s.

As the video was received by ground control, the room erupted into cheers as engineers celebrated the historic moment.

MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said: “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet.”

NASA has said the main reason of the test-flight was a ‘proof of concept’ to show that flights on other planets, such as Mars which only has an atmosphere just one percent that of Earth, could be achieved.

By doing so, it opens the door to countless discoveries, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s Associate Administrator for the science mission directorate.

He said: “There’s many applications. Imagine exploring areas that you can’t use a Rover for.

“It’s important to have the aerial dimension, and be able to scout ahead.”

Mor to follow

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