The small helicopter “Ibdaa” is said to have been flying around Mars for much longer than initially planned. On Friday, NASA announced at a press conference that the mission, which was originally scheduled to last about 30 days, was initially extended by 30 days. “After this 30-day period, we’ll see where we stand,” said Lori Glaze, NASA Administrator. “There is an opportunity to go beyond that.”
Creativity took off for the first time last week – making it the first plane to fly to another planet. The helicopter, which was powered by lithium-ion batteries and weighed about 1.8 kilograms, flew two more times – farther and faster than before. The fourth attempt to start was unsuccessful at first on Thursday, but was successfully repeated on Friday, NASA announced. Several flights planned.
The helicopter must challenge the harsh conditions on Mars: at night, temperatures drop to minus 90 degrees, which is a challenge for batteries and electronics. Because of the thin atmosphere, which is about 1% dense as the one on Earth, the “creativity” vanes must accelerate to 2,537 revolutions per minute – many times what helicopters can achieve on Earth. “Creativity” draws energy for this voltage from its battery fed by sunlight.
The tiny helicopter aboard NASA’s “persevering” rover (German: endurance) was created at the end of February – after 203 days of flight and 472 million kilometers of travel – with a precarious maneuver in a dry Martian lake called “Gezero” Crater. It took eight years to develop and build the rover, which is worth about $ 2.5 billion (about 2.2 billion euros), and is supposed to look for traces of past microbial life on Mars and research the climate and geology of the planet.