NASA is set to mark the Ingenuity Mars helicopter’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another planet with a series of online public events.
With the first flight set to take place no earlier than Sunday, April 11, NASA will host several events to bring people along for the ride.NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will host a livestream of Ingenuity’s first flight expected to begin around 3:30am EDT Monday April 12. The event will also be broadcast across multiple agency social media channels, including the JPL, YouTube and Facebook.
Ingenuity arrived at Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18, attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. The helicopter is a technology demonstration with a planned test flight duration of up to 31 days (30 Mars days). The rover will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station which enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.
Events include briefings, livestreams and Q&As
The planned flight date may shift as engineers work on the deployments, preflight checks, and vehicle positioning of both Perseverance and Ingenuity. Timing for events will be updated as needed, and the latest schedule will be available on the helicopter’s Watch Online webpage.
Virtual media briefings before and after Ingenuity’s first flight attempt, as well as livestream coverage, will take place from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. A pre-flight briefing at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT) on Friday April 9, will provide the latest details on the helicopter’s operations and what to expect on the first flight day.
Briefing participants are expected to include:
- Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, NASA Headquarters
- MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager, JPL
- Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead, JPL
- Amelia Quon, Ingenuity chamber test engineer, JPL
- Elsa Jensen, Mastcam-Z uplink operations lead, Malin Space Science Systems
If the helicopter flies on Sunday, April 11, as expected, the livestream will show the helicopter team analysing the first test flight data in JPL’s Space Flight Operations Facility beginning at 3:30 am EDT (12:30 am PDT) Monday, April 12. A post-flight briefing is expected to take place later at 11 am EDT (8 am PDT) Monday April 12. Questions from the public will be taken on social media during the briefings and livestream using the hashtag #MarsHelicopter.
Opportunities for students and female engineers
On Thursday April 8, at 1pm EDT (10 am PDT), students can watch a special conversation with members of the rover and helicopter teams on the NASA-JPL Edu YouTube channel and NASA TV.
A series of informal talks: “Taking Flight: How Girls Can Grow Up to Be Engineers,” will take place Thursday April 15; Thursday April 22; and Thursday April 29; at 4 pm EDT (1 pm PDT) each day, with exact dates and times based on Ingenuity’s first flight. The talks will focus on helping girls chart a path to engineering and provide invitations to special events for girls and women interested in the field.
Follow Mars helicopter on Earth via social media
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter technology demonstration is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Research, and Space Technology mission directorates. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations for Ingenuity and the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.
Follow Ingenuity via the @NASA, @NASAJPL, and @NASAMars Twitter accounts; NASA and NASAPersevere Facebook accounts and NASA Instagram account.