NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is gearing up to take flight hopefully this Sunday, April 11, to become the first powered device to fly on another world. The Martian helicopter has been on the ground where Perseverance (carefully) dropped it for a few days and it is currently undergoing test after test to make sure that everything is in working order.
NASA has confirmed that its blades are unlocked and ready to put on a slow spin of about 50 rotations per minute, to check they are all still in working order. If they work, on Sunday, April 11, the mission team will take the rotation to 2,537 rpm and if it all looks good it will lift off. It is expected to climb to an altitude of 3 meters (10 feet) in about 3 seconds, and then hover in place before landing back down. The whole first flight should take about 30 seconds.
Ingenuity is a technology demonstration, so each step achieved so far really tells the story of a very successful mission. If the little helicopter flies on Sunday, the team has four more flights planned for it, each more daring, trying to understand the full capabilities of this vehicle.
Amended: This article has been updated to include NASA's announcement Ingenuity's rotor has now been tested and it worked like a charm. A new video showing the rotor blades moving was shared by the NASA JPL Twitter account, included here.
THIS WEEK IN IFLSCIENCE
Receive our biggest science stories to your inbox weekly!