NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Kick up Dust on its 1st Flight

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has actually kicked up some dust during its historic first flight on the Red Planet, which occurred last Monday on April 19. 

The chopper’s larger companion, the Perseverance rover, noticed the cloud of rusty dust caused by the high-speed spinning blades, especially during take-off and landing, according to a tweet posted from the mission’s account on last Wednesday i.e., April 21. 

“Dust in the Wind… on Mars. These enhanced side-by-side videos from @NASAPersevere’s Mastcam-Z reveal plumes from #MarsHelicopter upon takeoff and landing,” the tweet reads. “It helps us better understand the Martian wind, and how dust travels through the Red Planet’s atmosphere.” 

Ingenuity’s maiden flight lasted a total of almost 40 seconds, with the helicopter spending a little less than 30 seconds floating above the Red Planet’s surface. The little chopper must spin its blades at around 2,400 revolutions each minute for lifting itself into the thin atmosphere of Mars. Hence all that dust kicks up. 

With the accomplishment of a successful first flight, the Ingenuity team is gearing up for as many as four more sorties over the patch of the Red Planet now known as Wright Brothers Field. 

During these flights, the car-sized Perseverance rover will remain at its overlook monitoring its small companion. However, as Ingenuity is only a technology demonstration, the team has only a month for its flights before the Perseverance rover should concentrate on its main geology and astrobiology mission. 

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