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NASA controlled chopper flight as early as Monday

Washington, Apr 18 (MNN) NASA will attempt the first controlled flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Mars as early as Monday, the US space agency has announced.

NASA is targeting the maiden flight at approximately 3.30 am EDT (1 pm IST). Data from the helicopter will return to earth a few hours following the autonomous flight.

A livestream will begin at 6.15 am EDT as the helicopter team prepares to receive the data downlink in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

It can be watched on NASA Television, the agency app, website, and social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.
If the flight takes place on April 19, a post-flight briefing will be held at 2 pm EDT, the agency said.

NASA said that Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s blades are made of a lightweight carbon fibre foam core to provide lift in the thin Mars atmosphere.

Those who would participate in the event are Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate; Michael Watkins, JPL director; MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL; Bob Balaram, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief engineer at JPL; Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief pilot at JPL; and Justin Maki, Perseverance Mars rover imaging scientist and deputy principal investigator of Mastcam-Z instrument at JPL.

The public and the media can ask questions on the social media during the livestream and briefing using #MarsHelicopter.
The original flight date of April 11 was shifted as engineers worked on pre-flight checks and a solution to a command sequence issue.

The rover will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.

This technology demonstration is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Research, and Space Technology mission directorates. JPL, managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations for Ingenuity and the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

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