NASA is getting ready for yet another historic flight: A 4-pound helicopter is being prepared to fly on Mars.
During a news briefing on Tuesday, NASA officials and engineers talked about preparations for the upcoming maiden voyage of the small helicopter, named Ingenuity. Officials are comparing this to the Wright brothers’ first successful powered flight!
The helicopter’s unique engineering design takes into consideration the thin atmosphere of the Red Planet. In fact, the engineers said that the biggest engineering challenge was keeping the small chopper’s weight to a bare minimum.
You can see what the aircraft looks like in the video above.
If successful, Ingenuity would be the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet! And, tucked under Ingenuity’s solar panels is a small piece of material that covered the wings of the Wright brothers’ aircraft when it took the first solo flight that fateful dat in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
NASA is hoping to fly the small Ingenuity on April 8. NASA engineers say they are receiving weather briefings from a weather team to help them plan the exact day that they’ll attempt that first flight.
NASA’s successfully landed its Mars Rover Perseverance on Feb. 18 this year near an ancient river delta in the Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient microscopic life. Perseverance is now the ninth spacecraft to successfully land on Mars since the 1970s, and each of those spacecrafts have been from the U.S.
Over the next two years, the rover will collect rock samples containing possible signs of bygone microscopic life, which will eventually be retrieved by another rover and brought back to Earth by another rocket ship.