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The world’s first aeroplane just landed on Mars!3 min read

March 31, 2021 3 min read

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The world’s first aeroplane just landed on Mars!3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars in February, it carried a little piece of history on it. This move has enabled the first plane to ever successfully fly on Earth, to be the first plane to enter space! How, you ask? Let’s elaborate.

This NASA image depicts the helicopter Ingenuity in front of the Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA
Wilbur and Orville Wright. Credit: Biography.com

The Ingenuity, a mini helicopter that is attached to the rover, carried a piece of the Wright brothers’ first airplane with it. The first plane was built by brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright. They were American inventors and pioneers of aviation. In 1903, they built the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight, and two years later, they built and flew the first fully practical airplane.

Owliver’s Obscure Facts

The first powered, controlled flight on Earth took place aboard the Flyer near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, when Orville and Wilbur Wright flew 120 feet for 12 seconds in December 1903. History was made when the Wright brothers conducted four separate flights on December 17, 1903, and each one was a little longer than the previous one.

A postage stamp-size piece of fabric that covered one of the wings from the Wright brothers’ Flyer 1 is attached to a cable beneath the helicopter’s solar panel, according to NASA. The Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio collected the small piece of fabric from the plane’s left wing and donated it at NASA’s request.

“Wilbur and Orville Wright would be pleased to know that a little piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that launched the Space Age by barely one quarter of a mile, is going to soar into history again on Mars,” said Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright, the Wright brothers’ great-grandniece and great-grandnephew.

Wilbur and Orville Wright pictured making the world’s first hour-long flight by aeroplane at Fort Myer, Virginia, in 1907. Credit: Popperfoto/Getty Images

A different piece of the wing’s material, known as ‘Pride of the West’, along with a splinter of wood, were flown on Apollo 11 in 1969, traveling to the moon and back.

Where is the Perseverance rover right now?

While NASA has earlier managed to operate wheeled rovers on Mars, it’s never flown a helicopter on the planet. The Ingenuity helicopter, which is attached to the underside of the Perseverance rover, will make history in April by flying in Martian skies for the first time.

This process, however, will take some time, as the rover has to first land successfully on the red planet. The good news is that there is progress. On Tuesday, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab shared a picture of Ingenuity with all four legs reaching out. “We’re in the home stretch. The Mars helicopter has lowered all four legs and is in position to touch down on the Martian surface,” JPL tweeted.

Since we now know that the Wright brothers were behind the first ever plane, how about we test our knowledge on some other famous inventors. Solve this quick quiz to see how much you know about the world’s greatest inventions and inventors!

Sources: CNN, cnet.com, history.com