We Put Another Robot on Mars, but it Flies

Joey Provencio, Comic Illustrator

Image courtesy of NASA

Humans, while finding it hard to change themselves, absolutely love the idea of changing the things around them. Developing countries and systems, the idea of “modernizing” is something that we’ve been chasing for centuries. As of the writing of this article, humans have successfully launched 6 rovers, (and landed them) on the planet Mars. NASA, beginning in 1997, have put the Sojourner, Opportunity (2004), Spirit (2004), Curiosity, (2012), and Perseverance (2021) rovers on Martian soil. The China National Space Administration has also landed their own Rover, Zhurong, in 2021. All these machines have the same thing in common: During their entire deployment, they’re confined to the ground. While it’s not inherently a bad thing per say, it does limit the distance they can travel and in effect, limits how much information they can send back to us on earth. 

With its concept originally published in 2014 as a scout helicopter, the ingenuity helicopter project kept it’s foot in the door and gained massive funding,- $15 million USD in 2016 to continue development. In August 2019, (after rigorous testing) it was decided that it would be mounted onto the bottom of the Perseverance Rover, securing it a spot in the Mars 2020 mission. Ingenuity completed its first controlled flight on April 19, 2021, becoming the first controlled aerial craft on another planet.