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Arts Culture NASA Update: First Helicopter To Land On Mars Sends Back Valuable Info

NASA Update: First Helicopter To Land On Mars Sends Back Valuable Info

NASA Update: First Helicopter To Land On Mars Sends Back Valuable Info
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech
By Christine Andas
By Christine Andas
February 22, 2021
The first helicopter that landed on Mars accompanying the Perseverance Rover has phoned home for the first time as its 31-day journey on the red planet begins

NASA's Perseverance Rover successfully landed on Mars on Thursday, after launching on 30 July, to begin its mission to find signs of extraterrestrial life and collect various samples of rocks to return to our home planet. All the while, the first-ever helicopter also made a successful landing after hitching a ride under the belly of the Perseverance Rover. While the Mars Rover is tasked to seek alien life, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter will test the first powered, controlled flight on the planet.

Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech

It's quite difficult to fly a helicopter on Mars. Scientists, engineers, and the like have to deal with limited communication, accurate power requirements, and the red planet's very thin atmosphere. To say this is a momentous achievement for mankind is an understatement. 

Although NASA has performed flight tests back home here on Earth in extremely cold environments to mimic Mars' temperature, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter has yet to survive its first night on the real site—at the Jezero Crater. The Ingenuity Mars helicopter has been designed and tested to withstand the unique characteristics of the red planet. For 30 Martian days, Ingenuity is expected to go through up to five test flights.

That's 31 days on Earth. While the first helicopter is being tested on a foreign planet's terrain, more individuals are beginning to consider living on Mars for a lifetime. But what would that actually be like?

Read more: Rockstar Physicist Brian Cox On Why Mars Is The Future 

Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech

If we humans inhabit Mars, we would have to wear spacesuits at all times. Unfortunately, the thickest parka coat would still not keep you protected. Earth's average temperature is 13.8 degrees Celsius, which is still wildly warmer than Mars' average temperature which is -62.7 degrees Celsius. Although the atmospheric pressure on Mars varies, you would still need a spacesuit that can apply pressure to the body and keep your white blood cells in place. On top of that, Mars' gravity is weaker compared to Earth's which means that your walking speed will be slower on the red planet. Definitely, a lot to get used to! 

As for nourishment, our food source would need to come from the planet's soil. Interestingly, scientists believe that growing crops like potatoes, beans, and asparagus is possible on Mars! 

Shelter for humans would have to be built using 3D Habitat printers. Marsha, a vertical pod prototype created by the AI SpaceFactory team for the contest NASA held in 2019, could be a viable human habitat. 

Read more: Elon Musk On SpaceX: The First Private Company To Send Humans To Space

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

If the Ingenuity Mars helicopter is able to pass the flight tests, the data or aerial dimension acquired can be used to aid future explorations. Soon, these future travels by astronauts will lead us closer to understanding much more about life on the red planet. Could you imagine embarking on space-travel in your lifetime? Who knows, it might just be a possibility! 

Read more: 20 NASA's Best Photos Astronauts Took In The Past Year

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