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NASA’s Mars helicopter just sent its first postcard back to Earth: a low-resolution, colored photo of the Martian surface.
Ingenuity’s camera snapped the picture (below) after the rotorcraft dropped to Mars’ surface from the underbelly of the Perseverance rover on Saturday. NASA released the image on Monday.
The agency expects better photography from the helicopter once Ingenuity starts to fly. The 4-pound drone is scheduled to conduct its first flight early Monday morning Eastern Time, though that initial liftoff will just test whether Ingenuity can successfully get a few feet off the ground, hover for about 30 seconds, and then touch back down.
Already, the helicopter has passed its first crucial test, surviving a night alone on the red planet amid temperatures of -130 degrees Fahrenheit (-90 degrees Celsius). If its first flight goes well, too, the space drone will have a roughly 30-day window to attempt up to five increasingly difficult flights, venturing higher and further each time.
NASA expects Ingenuity to capture plenty of high-resolution images along the way.
Scientists hope Ingenuity will fly for 90 seconds at a time
Ingenuity was designed as a technology demonstration to investigate whether helicopters and drones could be deployed successfully on other planets. Such aerial explorers could accomplish tasks that rovers and landers can’t.
“That could be for reconnaissance purposes — taking pictures to scout out areas, potential science targets for future rovers, or even future astronauts on Mars,” Håvard Grip, NASA’s chief pilot for Ingenuity, said in a press briefing. “Or it could be carrying its own science instruments into areas where you can’t get with a land-based vehicle.”
Ingenuity left Earth stowed inside the Perseverance rover on July 30, and the two vehicles spent about seven months traveling 293 million miles. After a month in Mars’ Jezero Crater — where Perseverance landed on February …read more
Source:: Business Insider