It soared faster and further than it had ever flown before. After an incredible 15 flights, NASA congratulated the Ingenuity helicopter on achieving a significant milestone.
Perseverance has not yet been abandoned by the helicopter. Both spacecraft are exploring Mars in a way that's never been done before, and it might show if life ever existed on the red planet. Ingenuity has shown to be an excellent travel companion, scouting ahead and pointing the way. And Perseverance doesn't have to go it alone on her quest.
NASA Perseverance Rover Achieving 15 Flights
The historic maiden flight was supposed to take place on Apr. 11. Still, plans were changed when a command-sequence glitch was identified during the helicopter's preflight software testing.
NASA said Ingenuity performed the first powered, controlled flight on another planet and returned to the surface safely on Apr. 19. The rover's images and video, and aerial shots obtained by the helicopter's camera demonstrated Ingenuity in action.
The helicopter crew jumped out of their seats in their control room on Earth to celebrate.
It's only natural that the mission also brought a piece of history with it. A piece of muslin cloth the size of a postage stamp formerly covered one of the Wright brothers' Flyer 1's wings is tied to a cable beneath the helicopter's solar panel.
History.com said Orville and Wilbur Wright flew 120 feet (36.6 meters) for 12 seconds aboard the Flyer in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina more than 100 years ago. It made history as the first powered, controlled flight on Earth. On Dec. 17, 1903, record was achieved when the Wright brothers flew four independent flights, each a bit longer than before.
April was meant to be the month of Ingenuity. It didn't give up, though, like the Wright brothers.
Since then, Ingenuity has returned photographs, moved from a tech demo to an operational scout for the rover, survived a frightening flight anomaly, flown through shifting atmospheric conditions on Mars, and set new distance, speed, and difficulty records. Fast forward, Science Times said the NASA Ingenuity helicopter reunited with Perseverance rover after completing its 14th and 15th flights a few months ago.
Perseverance, Ingenuity Captures People's Attention
It's no wonder that something that brings Perseverance and Ingenuity together has captured people's attention worldwide.
CNN and the rest of the world waited to learn if Ingenuity had survived the seven-month trek through space after Perseverance survived the notorious "seven minutes of fear" landing on Mars in February.
The small helicopter called home from its safe haven within the rover's belly to tell everything was fine. That week brought another breath of relief, but Ingenuity's difficult journey had just begun.
Then, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, it had to disengage from the rover and its dependable power supply. Perseverance would no longer be able to protect Ingenuity from the freezing evenings of Mars. That would be something the helicopter would have to perform on its own.
Another breath of relief came when Ingenuity fueled itself using its solar panel for the first time and survived the frigid Martian nights, which may reach minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (-90 degrees Celsius).
Check out more news and information on Space in Science Times.