When NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars in February, it carried a bit of the Wright brothers’ first airplane with it.
A swatch of fabric from the airplane, known as the Flyer, is secured beneath the solar panels of an experimental helicopter, which in turn is strapped to the underside of the rover, according to a statement from NASA. The helicopter, called Ingenuity, is attached to the rover for now, but soon, if all goes well, scientists will pilot the aircraft remotely over the surface of the Red Planet.
This flight will be attempted “no earlier than April 8,” NASA said. The rover must first transport Ingenuity to a designated airfield and deploy the chopper; once dropped off, the helicopter must gather enough solar energy to power its internal heaters and prevent its instruments from freezing.