NASA previews first Mars helicopter flights: Every step taken is ‘uncharted territory’

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is targeting no earlier than April 8 for the first-ever attempt at power and controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.

In a news conference Tuesday, members of the agency’s California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) explained that there are still a “number of challenges ahead” and that every single step of the process is unprecedented.

“As with everything with the helicopter, this type of deployment has never been done before,” said Farah Alibay, Mars Helicopter integration lead for the Perseverance rover. “Once we start the deployment there is no turning back. All activities are closely coordinated, irreversible, and dependent on each other. If there is even a hint that something isn’t going as expected, we may decide to hold off for a [Martian day] or more until we have a better idea what is going on.”

 

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