The ultralight helicopter Ingenuity, which arrived on Mars in February coupled to the Perseverance robot, has already shown resistance and survived its first night alone on the planet, the American space agency (NASA) confirmed.
The success of this first experience of the device, which has the hand of Florbela Costa, an aeronautical engineer from Barrô (Águeda), is seen by NASA as a “big step” even before its first flight. The ultra-light helicopter, which looks like a big drone, detached itself from Perseverance on Saturday.
However, the helicopter is due to do its first flight test next Sunday night. If the experiment is successful, we will have the first flight of a motor vehicle on another planet.
The young engineer from Águeda, who works at the Swiss company Maxon Group, was the technical manager responsible for preparing the six engines for the “Ingenuity” helicopter. Florbela Costa, 32 years old, graduated from the University of Beira Interior, with a master’s dissertation in Aeronautics between 2006 and 2011, developed within the Transport Research Center (NIT).
In an interview with Jornal da Bairrada on March 4, which can be read here, the young engineer, among other subjects, confided that she was only going to sleep well “after seeing the helicopter flying on Mars”.
Until now, Ingenuity has fed on the energy of the Perseverance robot, but at this point it depends on its own solar panels to survive, warming up during the freezing nights of Mars, when the temperature can drop to -90 ° Celsius. Surviving the freezing night on Mars was “an important milestone” for the ultra-light helicopter, NASA said in a statement this Tuesday.
Comprising four feet, a body and two overlapping propellers, the Ingenuity weighs just 1.8 kilograms and measures 1.2 meters from one end to the other of its blades.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks