NASA’s mini-helicopter, Ingenuity, has detached itself from the Space rover Perseverance and has touched down on the surface of the red planet, the U.S. space agency announced on Saturday evening.
The ultra-light helicopter, which looks like a large drone, arrived on 18 February attached to the belly of the Perseverance and remained there until the rover reached the spot where it was scheduled to touch down.
Nasa’s tweet shows Perseverance moving away from the helicopter. The rover needs to move away completely from the vicinity of the Ingenuity in less than 25 hours since the helicopter will need sun light to power its solar panels and to be able to survive by heating itself during the icy Martian nights.
Until now, Ingenuity has been feeding on energy from the rover, but it must now manage on its own.
It has a small radiator that maintains its interior’s temperature at about 7° Celsius, whereas the temperature on Mars can drop to -90°C, Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Mars Helicopter Project, explained in a status update Friday.