05 Apr 2021: NASA's Ingenuity helicopter touches down on Mars
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has touched down on Mars after being dropped from the belly of its mothership, the Perseverance rover, the space agency announced on Saturday.
Priced at a whopping $85 million, Ingenuity is the first helicopter to land on Mars. NASA aims to test the viability of flying vehicles on other planets through this endeavor.
State of the art: The first-ever Mars helicopter weighs just 1.8 kilograms
Ingenuity weighs just 1.8 kilograms in spite of its complexity.
The drone has four rotor blades that can spin at 2,537 revolutions per minute. There is also a heater on board among other components to keep the internals warm.
The drone meets its power requirements with an onboard battery that can be charged using two solar panels mounted on the helicopter.
Harsh conditions: Keeping Ingenuity warm is the main focus right now
The temperature on Mars can drop as low as minus 90 degrees Celsius, which is not suitable for any electronic equipment to work properly.
Therefore, NASA's main aim right now is to keep Ingenuity warm using its integrated heater. According to the agency, the heater can maintain a temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius onboard.
Pilot: Ingenuity will take its first flight on April 11
Meanwhile, Ingenuity is set to take its first flight on April 11 where NASA will test all the components of the drone.
If everything goes well, Ingenuity will perform a series of flights over Mars' Jezero Crater for 31 Martian days.
Each flight will venture no further than 300 feet and the drone will maintain a height of 16.5 feet from the surface.
Into new worlds: The drone will help its mothership in finding ancient life
Ingenuity's mothership, the Perseverance rover, was launched on July 30, 2020, and it reached Mars on February 18, 2020
It aims to explore Jezero Crater on Mars and to find signs of ancient life.
The rover will be spending the next two years on Mars collecting samples. The Ingenuity drone will be a crucial part of the rover's exploration.
Fact: Here is the confirmation tweet by NASA