Science & Tech

Nasa’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter is carrying fabric from the Wright Brothers’ first flight

Nasa’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter is carrying fabric from the Wright Brothers’ first flight

Ingenuity, Nasa’s helicopter which landed on Mars with the rover Perseverance in February, carries a piece of fabric from the first flight from the Wright brothers, it has been revealed.

The machine, which will conduct the first powered flight on another planet, carries “a small swatch of muslin material” from the lower-left wing of the Wright Brothers Flyer, and is placed on the underside of its solar panel.

The section from the aeroplane was taken from the Wright Brothers National Museum in Ohio.

webpage on Nasa’s Photojournal website reads: “Procured by the Wrights from a local department store in downtown Dayton, Ohio, the cotton fabric (called “Pride of the West Muslin”) was at the time mostly used for ladies’ undergarments. 

“In the front parlor of their home, the Wrights cut the material into strips and used the family sewing machine to create wing coverings for their airplane Flyer 1, which achieved the first powered, controlled flight on Earth on Dec. 17, 1903.”

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It isn’t the only Easter egg discovered on the technology sent to Mars, with the Perseverance rover coming with its own unique ID, ‘AONREHMELN1730055’, and a “Rover DNA tattoo”.

“Some designs celebrate past missions, while others offer hope for future human achievements on Mars,” Nasa said in a statement.

Perseverance dropped Ingenuity from its belly onto Mars’ surface at the start of the month, ahead of it taking off on the powered flight later on in April.

However, this has since been delayed by the space agency, after the blades on the helicopter stopped working.

In an update on Monday, Nasa said they had concluded that “minor modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software” was the best solution to the issue, but said that the process “will take some time”.

They said a new flight date for the copter will be set next week.

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