NASA's Ingenuity mini-helicopter survived its first night alone on the icy surface of Mars, the US space agency said, hailing it as "a major milestone" for the small craft as it prepares for its first flight.
The ultralight aircraft was dropped to the surface on Saturday after detaching from the Perseverance rover's belly, which landed on the Red Planet on February 18.
Apart from perseverance, Ingenuity had to rely on its own solar battery to run a key heater to avoid its non-solar energy and splitting during the harsh Martian night, where temperatures can dip too. As low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 90 degrees Celsius).
Getting through the frigid Martian night was "a milestone for the little rotorcraft," NASA said in a statement Monday.
Ingenuity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, MiMi Aung, said, This is the first time Ingenuity has been alone on Mars's surface.
But now we have the confirmation that we have the right insulation, enough battery power to survive the cold night, and the right heat, which is a big win for the team.
We are delighted to continue to prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test. "
Over the next few days, Ingenuity will undergo testing of its rotor blades and motors.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that if all goes well, Ingenuity should try her first flight before the evening of April 11.
It will be the first aircraft to strive to take the handle of another planet.
- Tribute to the Wright brothers -
Ingenuity wears a small piece of cloth covering one of the wings of the Wright Brothers' first plane that performed the first powered flight on Earth at Kitty Hawk in 1903 to pay homage to this milestone.
His effort will also coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight on April 12, 1961, by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
In Colombia, April 12, 1981, the 40th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch.
Ingenuity tries to fly in an atmosphere that is one percent of the Earth's density, making it difficult to get a lift. But with the help of gravity, one-third of our planet.
The first flight will include rising to a height of 10 feet at a speed of about three feet per second, floating for 30 seconds, then falling to the surface.
Ingenuity will take high-resolution photos as it flies from its "airfield" into Jezero Crater.
A series of flights is planned during its mission lasting 30 Martian grounds (31 terrestrial days).
Teddy Tzanetos, deputy director of operations at Ingenuity, said, Our 30 soil test schedule is full of exciting milestones,
Whatever happens in the future, we will get all the flight data in that time frame.
The four-pound (1.8 kilograms) rotorcraft cost NASA around $ 85 million to develop and is seen as a proof of concept that could revolutionize space exploration.