The big day is nearly here for the team behind NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity, who’ve spent six years developing the first aircraft to fly on the Red Planet.
On Monday (April 19), the ultra-lightweight robot will try taking off into the Martian sky and if it succeeds, this maneuver will be the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. Ingenuity is scheduled to take off at 3:30 a.m. EDT (0730 GMT) on Monday, but its flight controllers are wary.
If Ingenuity makes it off the Martian ground, NASA will broadcast a livestream of the first test flight data as it reaches Ingenuity’s mission team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. That livestream starts at 6:15 a.m. EDT (1015 a.m. PDT) on Monday. You can watch that webcast here and on the Space.com homepage, as well as directly from NASA TV.
“Our team considers Monday’s attempted first flight like a rocket launch: We’re doing everything we can to make it a success, but we also know that we may have to scrub and try again,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL, wrote in a NASA blog post Saturday (April 17). “In engineering, there is always uncertainty, but this is what makes working on advanced technology so exciting and rewarding.” Monday’s flight will mark the second time NASA has been poised to fly Ingenuity on Mars. The Mars helicopter’s first flight attempt on April 11 was delayed by a timing glitch in its systems, which mission engineers have addressed. Let us see what happens this time.