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