NASA’s Ingenuity big moment is almost here. The small helicopter will soon attempt the first-ever propelled flight on another planet. Few steps need to be undertaken before it can do that but a big one has just been completed. Ingenuity has detached from Perseverance and dropped to the ground.
The mission is a technology demonstration so every single milestone reached by this little machine is a first. It survived a journey of 471 million kilometers (293 million miles) in deep space, a short trip around the Mars surface attached to the belly of Perseverance, and then a final drop of about 10 centimeters (4 inches) onto the ground.
The focus is now on getting charged. Up to this point, Ingenuity benefitted by being connected to Perseverance keeping it powered up so its components could remain warm against the frigid Martian temperatures. Now it's on its own. Once the helicopter was dropped, Perseverance had to quickly move away to make sure Ingenuity would get some sunlight.
If everything works as it should, it will charge up and survive. The next big moment is coming no earlier than Sunday, April 11. Ingenuity maiden flight is currently scheduled for then. The helicopter will hover for about 20 to 30 seconds. If that is successful, 4 more flights will be attempted over the next 30 Martian days.