Nasa’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has completed the first powered, controlled flight on another planet, the space agency has announced.
The small helicopter successfully took flight on the red planet on Monday, hovering in the air at about 10 feet (three metres), before descending and touching back down on the Martian surface.
The news was met by cheers and applause at mission control.
MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said: “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet.” The aircraft is part of a technology demonstration – a project that aims to test a new capability for the first time.
Data from the first flight returned to Earth a few hours after the autonomous test.
Pictures showed a shadow of Ingenuity hovering above the planet’s surface, and a video showed it grounded on the surface.