NASA plans to send the new spacecraft Perseverance to Mars with a helicopter, hoping to fly the aircraft on the planet.
- The helicopter — named Ingenuity — will fly to Mars with the rover attached to its belly. Then, a few months after landing, NASA will test flying the helicopter on its own mission.
- The helicopter will fly 10 feet into the atmosphere at first, then another 6 feet. Slowly, the helicopter will rise higher into the sky.
- “It really is like the Wright brothers’ moment,” said project manager MiMi Aung, according to CBS News.
Why does this matter?
According to Scientific America, this could have major implications for how scientists understand and conduct research on Mars. A successful flight from a helicopter would allow researchers to visit locations where rovers can’t normally travel. The helicopter could fly over to ice scarps and inside walls, or even some steep craters on the planet. And, of course, the helicopters — if proven successful — could carry humans and scientific equipment across the planet.