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Nasa flies small helicopter on Mars

The American space agency has successfully flown a small helicopter on Mars.

The drone, called Ingenuity, was airborne for less than a minute, but Nasa is celebrating what represents the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another world.

Confirmation came via a satellite at Mars which relayed the chopper’s data back to Earth.

The space agency is promising more adventurous flights in the days ahead.

The rotocraft was carried to Mars in the belly of Nasa’s Perseverance Rover, which touched down in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet in February.

Ingenuity will be commanded to fly higher and further as engineers seek to test the limits of the technology.

Project manager for Ingenuity at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, MiMi Aung, said “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet,”

“We’ve been talking for so long about our ‘Wright Brothers moment’ on Mars, and here it is.”

This is a reference to Wilbur and Orville Wright who conducted the first powered, controlled aircraft flight here on Earth in 1903.

BBC

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