NASA wants to fly helicopter to Mars

The curious

The small Ingenuity helicopter will have to manage to rise into air with a density equivalent to only 1% that of the Earth's atmosphere.
The small Ingenuity helicopter will have to manage to rise into air with a density equivalent to only 1% that of the Earth’s atmosphere. Gregg Newton / AFP

More than a century after the first powered flight on Earth, NASA intends to prove that it is possible to fly a machine on another planet. Transported aboard the Mars 2020 mission, which arrives at its destination on Thursday, the small Ingenuity helicopter will have to accomplish a feat: rise in air with a density equivalent to only 1% that of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Ultralight helicopter

Ingenuity actually looks more like a big drone. The main challenge for engineers: to make it as light as possible, so that it can lift itself in extremely light air. It ultimately weighs only 1.8 kg. It is composed of four feet, a body and two superimposed propellers. It measures 1.2 meters from one end of a blade to the other. The propellers…

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