NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity really kicked up some dust during its historic first flight on the Red Planet, which took place on Monday (April 19).
The chopper’s larger companion, the Perseverance rover, spotted the cloud of rusty dust generated by the high-speed spinning blades, particularly during take-off and landing, according to a tweet published by the mission’s account on Wednesday (April 21).
“Dust in the Wind… on Mars. These enhanced side-by-side videos from @NASAPersevere’s Mastcam-Z reveal plumes from #MarsHelicopter upon takeoff and landing,” the tweet reads. “It helps us better understand the Martian wind, and how dust travels through the Red Planet’s atmosphere.”
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Ingenuity’s first flight lasted a total of about 40 seconds, with the helicopter spending a little less than 30 seconds hovering above the Red Planet’s surface. The little chopper must spin its blades at about 2,400 revolutions per minute in order to lift itself into the thin atmosphere of Mars — hence all that dust it kicks up.
With a successful first flight completed, the Ingenuity team is preparing for as many as four more sorties over the patch of the Red Planet now dubbed Wright Brothers Field.
During these flights, the car-sized Perseverance rover will remain at its overlook keeping an eye on its small companion. But because Ingenuity is only a technology demonstration, the team has just a month for its flights before the Perseverance rover must focus on its main geology and astrobiology mission.
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