A piece of the Wright brothers’ first plane is on Mars

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The experimental Martian helicopter Ingenuity contains a small tissue sample from the Wright Flyer, the aircraft with which the Wright brothers made the first controlled and powered flights in aviation history, NASA revealed on Tuesday.

On March for a little over a month, the American rover Perseverance has just released the anti-debris shield responsible for protecting Ingenuity during the landing. The rotorcraft will attempt its first powered flight no earlier than April 8, a little over 117 years after the first attempts by the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, December 17, 1903. The two brothers took turns, making four flights that day.

A piece of history on Mars

The reference is here. Indeed, the historic Carillon Park in Dayton, Ohio, the hometown of the Wrights, recently donated to NASA a piece of tissue taken from the lower left wing of the Wright Flyer, the aircraft that allowed the two brothers to achieve their exploits. The great-great-niece and great-grand-nephew of the latter had naturally given their consent.

Wilbur and Orville Wright would be happy to know that a small piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that truly launched the space age, will make history once again by joining the planet Mars! ”, they said in a statement.

For information, the material is glued to a cable under the helicopter’s solar panel.

Recall that a fragment of wood and fabric from the Wright Flyer already flew to the Moon in 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission. A sample also accompanied John Glenn in orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998. Just like the Wright brothers, Neil Armstrong and John Glenn were from Ohio.

the Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903 at 10:35 a.m. on Kitty Hawk Beach in North Carolina. Credit: John T. Daniels

A historic first flight

Regarding this first Martian flight, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently declared that it had found the ideal “aerodrome” for this first test flight. This is an area of ​​about 10 by 10 meters located right next to the rover’s landing site in Jezero Crater.

The JPL will give itself a few days to operate a first test. The rotorcraft will then activate its blades at nearly 2,900 revolutions per minute, before rising to about three meters in height for thirty seconds. For its part, Perseverance will keep a good distance to try to document (sounds and images) the event.

If successful, it will be the first attempted and successful flight on another planet.

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