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Images and video show NASA’s helicopter flying in ‘Wright brothers moment’ on Mars

The shadow of NASA’s Ingenuity is seen on the surface of Mars as the helicopter hovered during its first flight on April 19, 2021.

NASA successfully conducted the first flight of an aircraft on another planet, as the space agency’s helicopter Ingenuity completed a historic feat on Mars on Monday that it called a “Wright brothers moment.”

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” NASA associate administrator for science Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen said in a statement. “While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked.”

NASA rover Perseverance captured imagery of the flight after rolling a short distance away, with one of its navigation cameras showing a sequence before, during, and after the helicopter’s flight.

Video from NASA rover Perseverance shows helicopter Ingenuity spinning up its rovers, hovering, and then landing on Mars.

Ingenuity, which weighs four pounds, successfully flew autonomously for 39 seconds.

NASA’s Perseverance rover captured helicopter Ingenuity on the surface of Mars on April 18, 2021 before its first flight.
A camera on NASA’s Perseverance rover shows helicopter Ingenuity flying above the surface of Mars on April 19, 2021.
NASA helicopter Ingenuity back on the surface of Mars after its first flight on April 19, 2021, captured by a camera on the Perseverance rover.
A camera on NASA’s Perseverance rover shows helicopter Ingenuity flying above the surface of Mars on April 19, 2021.

NASA announced after the flight that the area on Mars’ Jezero Crater where Ingenuity flew will be known as Wright Brothers Field.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California work with Ingenuity during its development, a years-long process that was aided by some of the agency’s experts in rotor dynamics.

The helicopter stands just over 19 inches tall, and was delivered to the surface of Mars by NASA’s rover Perseverance.

The Perseverance rover, with the Ingenuity helicopter visible attached underneath, prepared for launch.

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