Thursday, March 18, 2021

Helicopter test flight on Mars no earlier than first week of April

NASA will hold a media briefing Tuesday to discuss upcoming activities for the agency's Ingenuity Mars helicopter. The teams operating Ingenuity and NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover have chosen the flight zone where the helicopter will attempt the first powered, controlled flights on another planet.

Briefing participants include:

  • Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters

  • Bobby Braun, director for planetary science, JPL

  • J. (Bob) Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer, JPL

  • HÃ¥vard Grip, Ingenuity chief pilot, JPL

  • Farah Alibay, Perseverance integration lead for Ingenuity, JPL

Ingenuity's test flights are expected to begin no earlier than the first week of April. The exact timing of the first flight will remain fluid as engineers work out details on the timeline for deployments and vehicle positioning of Perseverance and Ingenuity.

The Perseverance rover – with Ingenuity attached to its belly – landed in Jezero Crater Feb. 18. Ingenuity is a technology demonstration with a limited test flight duration of up to 31 days. The rover will deploy the helicopter and provide environmental monitoring and imaging support. It also hosts Ingenuity's base station, enabling communication with mission controllers on Earth.

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