April 22, 2021
On April 19, NASA’s helicopter Ingenuity (shown in flight in a series of images) took off on Mars. This was the first powered flight by an aircraft on a planet other than Earth. The four-pound helicopter spent 39 seconds in the air and reached an altitude of 10 feet. It carried wing fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, the world’s first successful powered plane. Helicopters may one day carry packages and act as lookouts for astronauts on other planets and moons.
On February 18, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars. Its mission: to seek evidence of past microbial life. Something may have thrived on the planet billions of years ago. The rover’s 300 million–mile journey to Mars’s orbit took nearly seven…