NASA’s tiny Ingenuity helicopter survived the first night alone on the frigid surface of Mars, the US space agency said, hailing it as a “human”. A “milestone” for the small craft while preparing to fly for the first time.
The ultra-light plane was dropped to the surface Saturday after being discharged from the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on the red planet on February 18.
The ingenuity relies on its own solar battery to power critical heaters to protect unprotected electrical components from freezing and cracking on a bitter Tuesday night, where temperatures can drop as low as 130 degrees
Making it through a cold Tuesday night was “A major achievement for light vehicles,” NASA said in a statement on Monday.
“This is the first time that Ingenuity has spontaneously spawned on the surface of Mars,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity program manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“But now we have confirmed that we have the right insulation, proper heating and enough energy in the batteries to survive the cold night, which is a huge win for the team.” We are excited to prepare our intelligence for the next first race. Flight test “
In the coming days, Ingenuity will be testing propellers and motors.
If all goes well, Ingenuity expects to take its first flight no earlier than the evening of April 11, the Jet Propulsion lab said.
It will be the first aircraft to attempt to propel and control flight on other planets.