WATCH: NASA aircraft first to fly on another planet

In an extremely thin atmosphere, Ingenuity rose up to three metres, then hovered for close to 40 seconds before landing again.

Ingenuity is a solar-powered helicopter and its flight demonstration was autonomous, piloted by an algorithm which controlled the on-board guidance and control systems and navigation. Image: NASA

CAPE TOWN, April 20 (ANA) – NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter made history by becoming the first aircraft to successfully fly and land on another planet on Monday.

The flight was broadcast live on NASA’s social media pages. The Ingenuity team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California confirmed the flight’s success, marking the first powered and controlled flight by an aircraft over the surface of another planet.

In an extremely thin atmosphere, Ingenuity rose up to three metres, then hovered for close to 40 seconds before landing again.

The flight and data were recorded by the Perseverance Mars rover which landed on Mars in February.

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk.

“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,” he said.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/wMnOo2zcjXA

Ingenuity is a solar-powered helicopter and its flight demonstration was autonomous, piloted by an algorithm which controlled the on-board guidance and control systems and navigation.

In a press statement released on NASA’s official website, it stated that the Red Planet has significantly lower gravity, one-third to that of Earth’s, which made the first flight a project full of unknowns.

It further stated that Ingenuity is on the 16th sol, or Martian day, of its 30-sol (31-Earth day) flight test window.

Over the next 90 Earth days, the Ingenuity team will receive and analyse the data from Mars to formulate a plan for a second test flight scheduled for no earlier than April 22.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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