NASA’s Small But Mighty Ingenuity Helicopter Is Gearing Up For Historic Test Flight On Mars The first-ever powered, controlled flight on another planet is just days away!
History in the making: NASA is targeting Sunday, April 11 for Ingenuity Mars helicopter’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet. The small but mighty helicopter arrived on Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity is a technology experiment with a narrow scope and limited duration (only a month), aiming to pave the way for more ambitious aerial exploration of other planets in the future. As Ingenuity makes its historic flights, it also carries with it a piece of history from Earth: a piece of the original Wright Brothers plane.
Flying on Mars isn’t easy: the atmosphere is thin (about 1% the density of Earth’s atmosphere). Ingenuity has to spin its blades much faster than at Earth to get enough lift and be very light (about 4 pounds or 1.8 kg). The first test flight involves lifting off, climbing to 10 feet (3 meters), hovering for about 30 seconds, and then descending.This flight will be the first in a series of test flights that will last up to 31 Earth days (30 Martian days or sols), each building in complexity if the previous flight went as planned. These tests will set the stage for future missions to include advanced robotic flying vehicles, collect high-resolution images from the air and survey sites that are difficult for rovers to reach.
NASA experts are available for one-on-one virtual interviews on Friday, April 9th from 6:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. EDT - two days before this historic flight - as well as limited opportunity Saturday, April 10th and Sunday, April 11 - the day before and the day of this historic test - to talk about what NASA hopes to accomplish with this ambitious first flight.
Want to have some fun demonstrating Ingenuity for your viewers? You can make a paper version! The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a way for people to experiment with Ingenuity’s design on paper to see what works best. You can find everything you need to participate here build your own!
**Please note: requests received after 5:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 8 may not be accommodated. Requests may not be accommodated if sent in via email.
Interviews will be conducted using video chat programs including Zoom and Skype, in 15-minute slots. For example 600-615 ET, 615-630 EDT, etc. Our preferred program is Zoom. Satellite interviews are not available. Please do not use an IFB unless necessary.
*Spanish Interviews are available*
Suggested Questions In 118 years we’ve gone from the first flight of a powered aircraft by the Wright Brothers to today’s test of powered aircraft on another planet. What is NASA hoping to learn from this historic test flight? What makes flying on Mars so difficult? Ingenuity is carrying a little piece of history with it. Can you tell us what that is? What is the first test flight for Ingenuity going to be like? Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on the belly of the Perseverance Rover that landed in February. How did it get to the surface? How will this help with future missions, crewed or robotic, to Mars? Where can our viewers go to keep up with Ingenuity?
Questions for longer interviews How difficult was it to design this small but mighty helicopter? How did your team even figure out it was possible to fly a helicopter on Mars?
Suggested anchor intro It’s incredibly difficult to fly in such thin air, but NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is about to attempt just this feat at Mars. Ingenuity is a very small spacecraft -- about the size of a tissue box -- but it has some big ambitions. Joining us today to talk about this historic test is …
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