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Why flying a helicopter on Mars is so damn hard

Why flying a helicopter on Mars is so damn hard

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Why flying a helicopter on Mars is so damn hard

Why flying a helicopter on Mars is so damn hard

On Earth, humans put more than a century of work into the art of flying. On Mars, we’re just getting started.

NASA’s four-pound helicopter, Ingenuity, touched down on the the surface of Mars on April 3 and will begin test flights in early April. It will be the first time humans have flown anything on another planet. 

In a nod to the Wright brothers’ first flight, it’s carrying a tiny piece of the plane that flew at Kitty Hawk. If all goes well, Ingenuity could take up to five 90-second flights over 30 sols, or Mars days, which are slightly longer than Earth days. 

For decades, scientists have examined the surfaces of moons and planets from spacecraft high above. Rovers provide a closer look, but are painfully slow. Ingenuity has the advantage of flying low — only 10 to 16 feet in the air — while traveling relatively fast. It’s equipped only with a camera. But future drones could carry more tools.  Read more…

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