For the first time ever, bad weather on another planet has delayed a scheduled flight. The Ingenuity helicopter was supposed to take a flight to Mars on January 5 but had to push it to the 19th. This was because of an unusually strong regional dust storm on Mars, according to NASA. Now the team in charge of its flight expects to have it in Martian skies by Sunday, January 23.
Mars is smaller and has a less dense atmosphere than Earth, but it still experiences different seasons, high winds, dust storms, and ice clouds. Other orbiters circling Mars and instruments on missions such as the Perseverance rover and InSight lander are gathering information for scientists to better understand Mars. However, forecasting weather on another planet is even more difficult than our own.
Being able to predict weather and seasonal changes had been crucial on Ingenuity’s previous flight. The chopper is very small, weighs four pounds, and has flown through spring and summer conditions on Mars. Air density and wind speed are the two vital factors when it comes to calculating favorable flight conditions for Mars.
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