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Le mini-hélicoptère Ingenuity.

NASA’s ingenious helicopter could fly to Mars on Monday

It was the first aircraft of a motorized vehicle on another planet.

The U.S. space agency said on Saturday that the first flight of NASA’s ingenious mini helicopter to Mars was likely to take place early Monday after a delay of more than a week due to a technical problem.

The ingenious flight of the first motorized device to another planet should allow NASA to gather valuable data about the living conditions on Mars. “NASA expects the first flight of its ingenious helicopter to take place on Monday, April 19thL, ”the company said. Data can be retrieved “A few hours after the autonomous flightNASA says it should start at 3:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m. Paris time).

Flight is a real challenge because Mars winds have an equivalent density of only 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere. However, only by pushing air can the impulses lift the device. This means that in order to fly intelligently, the earth must rotate its rotor blades much faster than a helicopter. After the flight, the helicopter will send technical data to the rover about what it has achieved, which will be sent to Earth. In this initial data, a black and white photograph of the ground will be taken directly below it while in the air. The next day, once its batteries are recharged, the helicopter sends a color photo of the horizon taken by its other camera. But the most amazing pictures have to come from the rover of diligence, which is kept track of several meters away, and they have to shoot the plane.

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If successful, the second flight will not take place after four days. Up to five flights are planned in all, increasing difficulty. NASA wants to raise the helicopter to a height of 5 meters, then try to move it sideways. In 1903, this action would be equivalent to the first flight of a motorized vehicle on Earth by the Wright brothers to Mars. Even a piece of cloth from this plane, which took off a century ago in North Carolina, USA, has been cleverly placed.

Whatever happens, after a month or less, the ingenuity test will stop, leaving the rover of perseverance dedicated to its main task: searching for traces of ancient life on Mars.