NASA Mars 2020 Ingenuity Helicopter Rover
NASA announced today that it is targeting no earlier than April 8 for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter launch. This will be the first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Currently, Ingenuity is attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, with its graphite composite debris shield deployed, which protected it during landing. Perseverance is making its way to the “airfield” where Ingenuity will attempt to fly. Read more for a video explaining its flight path and additional information.



Once deployed, the helicopter is set to have 30 Martian days, or sols, (31 Earth days) to conduct its test flight campaign if all goes as planned. Since Mars has significantly less gravity (about one-third that of Earth’s), the planet’s surface receives only about half the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth during its daytime, while nighttime temperatures can drop as low as -130° F, possibly resulting in freezing and / or cracking of unprotected electrical components.

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Every step we have taken since this journey began six years ago has been uncharted territory in the history of aircraft. And while getting deployed to the surface will be a big challenge, surviving that first night on Mars alone, without the rover protecting it and keeping it powered, will be an even bigger one,” said Bob Balaram, Mars Helicopter chief engineer at JPL.