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NASA’s Mars Ingenuity Helicopter Flight Delayed

NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, is the first flight that has been delayed to April 11 to give the team and aircraft more preparation time. The flight was initially scheduled to fly on April 8. Still, NASA delayed it for its first and only Martian helicopter to give the Ingenuity team back on Earth more time to characterize its energy story.

The extra time is also just a matter of caution as the team is taking additional precautionary measures with every step of the process. The helicopter weighs about four pounds with a wingspan of 1.2 meters. It is powered by batteries that are charged through solar panels on the top side. According to NASA, the helicopter can fly for 90 seconds with a full battery.

After that, it must land and charge enough of its battery to power the heater onboard, as this protects the device from the Cold nights of the Red Planet. These three extra days give the Ingenuity team the time to read on the power cycle better. More importantly, it ensures that the energy is positive throughout all the steps of the process.

The helicopter’s first flight will occur on a full battery, and it will only fly a few meters up before returning to the surface of Mars. NASA says that it won’t go any higher than about 15 feet. Tim Canham said during a Q&A, “This next step (flying for the first time) is huge. Can it go up and hover and land safely? That will be a major moment of triumph for the helicopter team.”

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