The small drone Ingenuity, a member of the mission that arrived on Mars in February carrying the Perseverance rover, had its first image on the Red Planet released this Sunday (21) by NASA. The equipment apparently arrived intact there and should be activated soon to make a historic flight.
According to the American space agency, the debris shield that protected the device during landing on Martian soil, on February 18, was successfully removed this weekend. From there, it was possible to see the drone attached to Perseverance’s belly, as shown in the image captured by the camera installed on the rover’s robotic arm.
“The wreckage shield is gone and here is our first look at the helicopter. It is stored on its side, folded and locked in place, so there is a reverse origami to do before I can put it on the floor. First, though, I’m going to the designated ‘heliport’ a few days by car from here, ”wrote the team on the official mission profile on Twitter.
This “heliport” to which NASA refers is the designated place to put Ingenuity into operation for the first time. The “car” in question, on the other hand, is the rover itself, which is traveling across the surface of Mars carrying its traveling companion.
Flight scheduled for April
With the possibility of becoming the first aircraft to take off on another planet, the tiny drone will have the mission to fly over the Jezero crater, which is 500 meters deep. The place, where a river existed billions of years ago, is pointed out by experts as one of the best choices to look for signs of ancient microbial life.
But to do so, it needs to work properly, taking off and hovering in the air, which will only be possible to know if it worked a short time before the first flight attempt, scheduled to happen in early April. Takeoff depends on weather conditions on Mars, constantly monitored by the command of the mission on Earth.