The first controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet has successfully taken place. The Mars drone Ingenuity lifted off and hovered about 1 meter above the Martian surface for 40 seconds. Because of the distance between the Earth and Mars flight controllers had to wait for three hours to find out if the experiment was successful.
The drone was brought to Mars strapped under NASA’s Perseverance rover. It was positioned 65 meters away from the rover, which took pictures and recorded videos of the flight.
Because the atmosphere on Mars is thin and there is less gravity compared to Earth, Ingenuity’s rotor blades must rotate much faster to lift the craft. In addition, the drone has an on-board navigation system and software which allows it to fly on its own.
The 1.8 kg heavy drone has two cameras on board, as well as solar-powered batteries. NASA intends to use drones on future missions to Mars to find the right landing places and gather data.
During the next few weeks NASA is planning several test flights of the Ingenuity drone.
- aircraft= a machine or object that can fly
- atmosphere = mixture of gases around a planet
- craft = here: drone
- drone = an aircraft that does not have a pilot and is operated from somewhere else
- gather data = collect information
- gravity = the power that makes something fall to the ground
- hover = float
- in addition = also
- Martian = about Mars
- mission = trip, journey
- position = to put in a certain place
- rotate = to move around an object’s center
- rotor blades = the flat parts that turn around at the top of a helicopter
- rover = special car that is used to move on other planets
- several = a few
- solar = by the sun
- strap = to use a band to fasten something to an object
- surface = the top part of a planet