NASA is about to make history on Monday when the Ingenuity Mars helicopter will attempt the first powered and controlled flight on another planet. The original flight was scheduled for April 11 but it got postponed due to a software issue, when high-speed test was done of the aircraft’s rotors.

The software problem has been resolved and the 1.8 KG drone could achieve the feat by 3:30 AM ET. The data related to the information will arrive several hours later, NASA will begin a livestream about the same at 6:15 AM ET.

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“Each world gets only one first flight,” MiMi Aung, the Ingenuity project manager, said before the first attempt.

The first flight on Earth was made by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina in 1903 and a fabric from the Wright brother plane has been tucked inside Ingenuity in honour of that achievement. 

Rover Perseverance, a Mars rover designed to explore a crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. It touched down on Mars on February 18 on a mission in search for life in the planet. 

The helicopter traveled to Mars attached to the underside of the rover Perseverance, which touched down on the planet on February 18 on a mission to search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

NASA hopes that Ingenuity will make a way for future flyers that revolutionize our exploration of celestial bodies because the drone can reach areas that rovers can’t go and travel much faster. 

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The timing of the helicopter flight is chosen with the weather on Mars in mind. Wind is the big unknown and could jeopardize the mission.

The flight is challenging because the air on Mars is so thin — less than one percent of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere. That makes it much harder to achieve lift, even though it will be partly aided by a gravitational pull that is a third of Earth’s.

The helicopter will rise for about six seconds, hover and rotate for about 30 seconds, then go back down.

After the flight, Ingenuity will send Perseverance technical data on what it has done, and that information will be transmitted back to Earth. This will include a black and white photo of the Martian surface that Ingenuity is programmed to snap while flying.

Later, once its batteries have charged up again, Ingenuity is to transmit another photo — in color, of the Martian horizon, taken with a different camera.

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But the most spectacular images are supposed to come from the rover Perseverance, which will film the flight from a few meters away.

Shortly after this filming, six videos of 2.5 seconds each will be sent to Earth. NASA hopes at least one of them will show the helicopter in flight.

If the flight is a success, NASA plans another no more than four days later. It plans as many as five altogether, each successively more difficult, over the course of a month.