Ingenuity touched down on Mars’ surface as planned ahead of the historic flight. Ingenuity is a helicopter designed by NASA to fly in the Martian atmosphere. The helicopter has survived the first chilling night on the Red Planet. The helicopter will undertake its maiden flight on April 11. Surviving the cold night is full of challenges as an extreme change in temperature could damage its parts that are not protected. Mars temperature at night drops to minus 90 degrees Celsius. During the day, Mars sees almost half of the sunlight that Earth receives. According to NASA, Ingenuity’s survival on the Mars surface is another challenge as lack of solar energy could make it inoperative.
Ingenuity arrived at Mars with the Perseverance rover in February. It was attached to the car-sized rover’s belly. NASA said that surviving the first cold night on Mars after a touchdown is a major milestone. It weighs 1.8 kg. NASA will attempt to fly it in the Martian atmosphere on April 11. It will be a controlled flight. This will also be the first time when any agency will make such an attempt on another planet. NASA said that night temperature can freeze and damage Ingenuity’s electrical components. To keep its internal parts functioning, a heater is required but powering it is another denting task. An extreme fall in temperature could cause severe damage to the helicopter’s batteries and disrupt the power supply.
The helicopter will receive power from Perseverance until its four legs are on the planet’s surface. NASA said that Ingenuity has the right insulation, heaters, and enough power in the battery that will keep its components alive. The agency has said that Ingenuity will have a window of 30 Martian days to fly once it is completely detached from the rover. NASA has plans to fly the system at least five times. Ingenuity’s successful flight will demonstrate technologies that could be a pioneer in the exploration of Mars in the future. Mars’ atmosphere is very thin and the gravity is a third of Earth’s gravity. Ingenuity’s success will redefine the scientific approach to explore Mars which is said to be a promising destination for life beyond Earth.