This image is a “selfie” of history being made! What might look like an unremarkable black and white photo is the shadow of “Ingenuity,” the solar-powered helicopter brought to Mars by NASA’s Perseverance Rover landing in February. Here she is making her first-ever flight, just a few days ago, and I think her first photo was this “selfie”!
About 49 cm [19,3 inches] tall, Ingenuity is the first aircraft in history to make a powered controlled flight on another planet. This little drone went up in Martian airspace about 3 metres [10 feet] hovered for 39.1 seconds, shifting a bit to the left and right, then came down in a controlled soft-landing.
Wow! Other missions are planned in the next few weeks. This photo was taken and beamed to Earth 278 million+ km [173 million miles] away!
“We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet,” exclaimed MiMi Aung, the project’s lead engineer on Monday.
Now I am sure few of you here on the platform remember a time when your own world did not have TVs, mobile phones, internet, or even fax machines [realizing these are still inaccessible to millions]. People my age remember these days well, the time even before landlines rang across most of the continent.
I realize Mars seems very far away, in lots of ways, but I want you to think of the possibilities for Africa, even as we grapple with fighting a pandemic and securing basic needs for our millions of people. I want us also to fast forward our thinking and #Imagining
to future [and job-creating] possibilities of space. This is going to happen and African nations need to be part of it. It will take time, but let’s start thinking.
It took the NASA team over six years of planning to get Ingenuity to Mars, a blue sky idea that finally took flight [and landed] in the middle of an Earthly pandemic. Imagine the huge #Focus
it took the teams to keep this mission on track. I heard that many of the scientists and engineers didn’t see each other for weeks or even months, all working remotely to stay on schedule.
When the Perseverance rover landed on Mars a few months ago, it was so amazing to watch these brilliant engineers, astrophysicists, and other technologists sitting in Mission Control, bursting into applause. All masked up and socially distanced, they touched elbows, thrilled especially when the parachute opened on time. It was all kind of surreal.
Does this seem a bit “out of this world”? Well, I want you now as entrepreneurs to fly your #Mindsets
back in time 117 years, 4 months and 2 days from this past Monday’s historic flight.
December 17, 1903 was a bit of a breezy day when Wilbur and Orville Wright [two innovative bicycle makers] made four hugely historic first-flights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in the USA with their FIRST motor-powered aircraft. The Wright’s first manned flight that launched the aviation age lasted only 12 seconds!
Since Monday was such a huge first for space aviation, the NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] team has decided to name this Martian “airfield” where Ingenuity made its first flight — the “Wright Brothers Field”. The story I heard is that Ingenuity even carries a postage-stamp-sized piece of muslin fabric from the Wright brothers’ plane as a tribute.
“Each world gets only one first flight,” said Ms. Aung.
Forget all those sci-fi movies; these stories are the real deal!
Times are very tough, but never forget to look up.
Image caption: The NASA engineers apparently didn’t expect to see this shadow because in all the years of earthbound testing, possibly they just hadn’t factored in the sun at midday Mars time. I think they expected the first image would be of Mars’ surface but I understand they were surprised to see Ingenuity took this shadow selfie!
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