Prepare for Google Maps Mars: NASA Ingenuity helicopter makes its first flight on Mars today

The delayed helicopter flight will make history with the first flight on Mars today to explore the planet surface

NASA Ingenuity
(Image credit: NASA)

NASA announced this weekend that its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will now take its first flight on Monday, April 19. This will be the first powered flight achieved on another planet. A live stream from Mars can be seen of the event from 11.15 am BST (6.15 am EDT / 3.15 am PDT) on the NASA website, app and social channels. While the actual event is due to happen a few hours earlier, the data will take time to reach Earth.

The flight was originally due to take place on April 11 but was delayed due to a minor software issue. The NASA Mars Helicopter known as Ingenuity is a large drone device, measuring 4ft (1.2 meters) from tip to tip. It features dual carbon fiber blades to deal with the thin Mars atmosphere and has a battery for power, giving it a range of 980 ft (300 meters) at an altitude of up to 15 feet (15 meters). It also has a solar panel to keep the battery charged, providing enough energy for a 90-second flight in one Martian day.

Onboard is a series of sensors and cameras to capture data that will be fed back to Earth, via the Mars 2020 rover and Mars orbiters. The underside camera pointing at the ground will take 30 frames per second, while the main camera, facing the horizon will capture images while in flight. The Mars Perseverance will also capture images of the Ingenuity in flight.   

NASA Ingenuity

NASA Mars Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

(Image credit: NASA)

The Ingenuity left Earth on July 30, 2020, attached to the belly of the Mars Perseverance rover and landed on Mars on February 18, 2021. It is due to attempt five test flights over a 31-day period (30 Martian days).

You can watch the Ingenuity live stream on any of the NASA channels, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the NASA App.  You can also ask questions via the #MarsHelicopter hashtag.

Mat Gallagher
Mat Gallagher

As T3's Managing Editor in the US, Mat is a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, cars, music or travel. Originally from the UK, he has written about technology since 2003 and after stints in Beijing and Hong Kong, is now based in Chicago.