Flying on Mars

Mars Ingenuity helicopter.

Mar 31, 2021

NASA Aeronautics on Mars (and Earth)

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover successfully landed on the Red Planet on Feb. 18. The probe is carrying a small helicopter called Ingenuity that could result in the Martian equivalent of the Wright Brothers first historic flight on Earth.

A small team of NASA’s aeronautical innovators contributed their expertise to help the Ingenuity team hopefully achieve mission success. For a full look at the Mars mission, including the latest news and pictures, we invite you to keep an eye on the NASA homepage or the Mars Perseverance Rover webpage. In the meantime, enjoy these links to content related to Aeronautics’ involvement with Ingenuity and helicopters in general, including STEM activities at the bottom of the page.

NASA’s Aeronautics Experts Help Prepare Ingenuity to Fly on Mars
A team of NASA helicopter experts from the Ames Research Center in California assisted the Ingenuity team in making sure the technology demonstrator had the best chance for success in flying in the super thin atmosphere of the Red Planet. Read about their work here.https://www.youtube.com/embed/PcH_OhaJN9g?rel=0A one-hour seminar about the specific technical work done for Ingenuity by the NASA Aeronautics team at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Langley Research Center.

NASA is With You When You Fly, Even on Mars
According to the 1958 law that established NASA, where the first “A” in NASA stands for aeronautics, the agency is charged with solving the problems of flight within the atmosphere. But the law doesn’t say which planet’s atmosphere. Here is an introduction from 2019 about NASA Aeronautics’ work on the Mars Helicopter.

Four Ways NASA in Silicon Valley is Helping NASA’s Next Mars Mission
Groundbreaking technologies aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 mission have roots right here in Silicon Valley. Read on to learn more!

Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology Project
NASA’s work on helicopter technology dates back to its predecessor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Catch up with what’s going on with the rotor dynamics researchers here.https://www.youtube.com/embed/oOMQOqKRWjU?rel=0The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration that will travel to the Red Planet with the Mars 2020 rover. It will attempt controlled flight in Mars’ thin atmosphere, which may enable more ambitious missions in the future.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Back on Earth: Advanced Air Mobility Mission
It will be a long, long time before any resident on Mars can order the latest book online and have it delivered to their front door by one of hundreds of drones darting about the sky on any given day. But for us Earthlings that future is much closer than you think. NASA Aeronautics is leading the way to make what’s called Advanced Air Mobility a reality. Read about our mission here.

Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit
Here is a collection of online STEM-related products about the Mars 2020 mission with Perseverance and Ingenuity. It includes hands-on activities, interactive multimedia, lesson plans and activities, play and learn, posters, read about it, and videos. There’s something here for educators, parents, and students from Kindergarten through High School.

https://www.nasa.gov/stem/nextgenstem/moon_to_mars/mars2020stemtoolkit

STEM Aeronautics Activities Related to Ingenuity

Most of these activities are available from the Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit listed above, but here are links to some of those that are directly related to aeronautics.

https://www.nasa.gov/stem-ed-resources/make-a-paper-mars-helicopter.html
https://www.nasa.gov/stem-ed-resources/code-a-mars-helicopter-video-game.html
https://www.nasa.gov/stem-ed-resources/build-your-own-mars-helicopter-model.html
https://www.nasa.gov/stem-ed-resrouces/draw-a-rover-and-helicopter-on-mars.html
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/space_craft_coloring_mars_english_0.pdf
https://www.nasa.gov/stem-ed-resources/out-for-a-spin.html

Despite the difference in planets involved, Ingenuity’s planned, and the Wright Brothers’ historic, first powered, controlled flights have a lot of similarities. These include the process of invention and testing, as well as embodying the spirit of innovation and exploration. In addition to the Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit activities listed above, the following resources can be used to further explore the processes and science associated with flight, especially vertical flight as Ingenuity on Mars and helicopters on Earth are designed to do.

Wright Brothers resources

Aeronautics for Pre-K, which includes a section on helicopters

Mars Perseverance Parachute Coding Activity
 
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Rotorcraft (English)
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Rotorcraft (Spanish)
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Tilt Rotor (English)
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Tilt Rotor (Spanish)
 
Aeronautics @ Home Ingenuity activities:
Build Your Own Mars Helicopter
Out for a Spin
Four Forces of Flight
Drone Maze
Ingenuity Coloring Page
Advanced Air Mobility STEM Module
 https://www.youtube.com/embed/WxMpihfEPQs?rel=0Did you know that NASA’s aeronautical innovators had a hand in the creation of the first flying vehicle on Mars? They performed detailed work in areas such as performance predictions, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, control law validation, and experimental analysis. Watch this video to learn more.Credits: NASA

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California work with Ingenuity.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California work with Ingenuity during its development, a years-long process that was aided by some of the agency’s experts in rotor dynamics.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Watch the video from which this image was captured.Last Updated: Apr 1, 2021Editor: Lillian Gipson

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