We recently had some wonderful news. The Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, had its first successful flight. This marks the first time we have flown in the atmosphere on another planet.

Mars is a bit of a challenge. In spite of the impression that recent movies have represented, the atmosphere on Mars is quite thin. In order to get lift, you have to have air to push against, so this was quite a feat. The atmosphere on Mars is 0.006 atmospheres and is mostly carbon dioxide.

As of now, the helicopter has had three flights: 39 seconds, 52 seconds, and now, 80 seconds. This will open many new exploration opportunities at greater distances and speeds that is possible for rovers. Three cheers for the Ingenuity helicopter and the many frontiers that it will bring within reach.

Come visit the Insperity Observatory for public night on the first Friday of each month. Reservations required: humbleisd.net/observatory.

 

By Dr. Aaron B. Clevenson

Observatory Director, Insperity Observatory

Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.

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