The Little Martian Helicopter that Could

Image (Credit): The Martian Ingenuity helicopter. (NASA)

The Washington Post recently posted a story about the great success and potential demise of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter that accompanied the Perseverance Rover to the surface of Mars last year. It has already lasted for more than a year flying multiple missions, yet it may not make it through the Martian winter given the accumulation of dust on its solar panels.

The article, “NASA’s Mars helicopter was supposed to fly five times. It’s flown 28,” quotes Lori Glaze, the director of NASA’s planetary science division, who states, “We built it as an experiment…So it didn’t necessarily have the flight-qualified parts that we use on the big missions like Perseverance.” What an experiment it has been, setting the stage for bigger and bolder missions in the future to help us better understand the Martian surface.

You will also read about one symbolic piece of material that is part of the little helicopter – a postage-size piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers’ aircraft the Flyer (see below). I wonder what the Wright Brothers would think of this first flight on a distant planet?

You can read much more about Ingenuity’s adventures here

Image (Credit): 1903 Wright Flyer at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (Smithsonian photo by Eric Long)