Watch NASA’s Mars Helicopter Take Its Historic First Flight

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night on Mars despite temperatures that can reach minus 90 degrees, a sign the craft is well-insulated, clearing a major hurdle for the mission.


NASA's Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory is operating the solar-powered helicopter remotely and expects the chopper to liftoff after April 11. The flight will allow us to see another planet from the air for the first time and will be livestreamed on NASA TV, its website at NASA.gov/live, and on its YouTube channel.

"If we are successful, it will prove that aerial flight on Mars is within our grasp," JPL's director of planetary science Bobby Braun told dot.LA. "We're going to start with a very simple flight -- go up, move around a little and come back, and then we'll expand our flights, and go higher and faster."

NASA didn't set a hard date for the launch, partly because it needs to make sure the weather on Mars which can be unpredictable – and the machinery – are right for takeoff.

Ingenuity is basically a tiny helicopter custom-designed for flight on Mars, and its primary mission is to hover over the Red Planet's surface and take videos and photos to send back to Earth. It had been attached to the Rover Perseverance until it was released on Monday.

Over the next day, Ingenuity will collect information about how well it's able to stay warm and maintain power to ensure it can withstand the harsh Mars nights through the entire flight experiment period.

On April 7, the craft's restraints that held the rotor blades together will be released before a battery of more tests are performed. Then, it's take off.

The entire project cost NASA roughly $80 million. JPL announced Saturday that Ingenuity had completed a successful drop from the belly of the Perseverance rover and survived its first night on Mars -- no small feat, since the helicopter is solar-powered.


NASA will livestream the launch on NASA TV, its website at NASA.gov/live, and on its YouTube channel. On-demand recordings of the event will also be available on YouTube once the live stream is concluded. A NASA spokesperson said that other recordings from additional feeds will be uploaded to the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission website as they become available.

In order to get the NASA TV channels, viewers will need a Digital Video Broadcast-compliant Integrated Receiver Decoder, since the TV signals are transmitted from a satellite via digital C-Band signals. It might be easier to just check YouTube.

For those looking for raw footage, a clean feed of mission activities will also be available on the NASA TV media channel and YouTube.com/JPLRaw.

To keep tabs on the Ingenuity and Perseverance missions on social media, follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, where the NASA and JPL teams will be posting updates on the mission progress.

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Image courtesy of Maureen Klewicki

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