As for fellow space nerds, you've probably already seen it, but if you're looking for more information, or for those casual observers, here's some info and video about the historic first flight of Ingenuity on Mars.

In another first on "The Red Planet" NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter completed the first controlled and powered flight ever made on another planet (April 19, 2021). The video above shows the flight as viewed from the newest Mars rover Perseverance.

The short test flight of Ingenuity was not made while being flown by remote pilots manipulating joysticks as remotely piloted aircraft here on Earth are commonly flown, but was a preprogrammed flight to prove that it could be done. Remote piloting an aircraft on Mars, from Earth in 'real time' is impossible, since it takes 4.5 - 21 minutes for a radio signal to travel between Earth and Mars (at 186,000 miles per second!), depending upon the planets positions in orbit relative to one another. 

Ingenuity is scheduled to make at least four other flights, each building upon the next. Ingenuity carries no scientific experiments other than 2 cameras, but is solely dedicated to proving that powered flight can be accomplished in the ultra-thin atmosphere of Mars.

Ingenuity is very small and lightweight (only 4 pounds), and is powered by counter-rotating carbon-fiber blades, each spinning at about 2,400 rpm to lift the aircraft in the thin atmosphere (99% less dense than Earth’s). For comparison, a helicopter's blades on Earth only rotate at about 400-500 rpm.

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a press release,

Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible...The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.

Below is a great video about the myriad obstacles that the Ingenuity team had to overcome in the development of the aircraft.

Below is a great video of the entry and landing of the Perseverance rover, which landed in February, and which, among many other missions, delivered and dropped off Ingenuity, ready for it's history making flight.

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