NASA has successfully deployed the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars and is currently running tests before it will launch the first-ever flight on the red planet.
The helicopter’s arrival on Mars was confirmed by NASA on Saturday, delivered by the Perseverance rover where it was contained on the journey from Earth. The helicopter weighs only 4 pounds and until last Friday was using a heater within the Perseverance to stay warm.
NASA scientists were concerned about the freezing temperatures on Mars, which can fall as low as -130 degrees Fahrenheit depending on location. The team in charge of the Ingenuity will be testing battery performance and recharge capability before unlocking the rotors for flight.
The Ingenuity is worth $80 million and is considered a “high-risk, high reward” attempt according to NASA. The first test will only have the Ingenuity hover for about 30 seconds before landing. If successful, NASA has four other flight tests scheduled for the following month.
Flight controllers will be unable to manually pilot the craft due to transmission delays and will have to upload pre-programmed flight commands to the Ingenuity. They will then have to wait until the flight test has completed to know if it was successful.
The Ingenuity does not have any advanced sensors or technology designed to take measurements and has been called a “technology demonstration” by NASA.
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