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Mission 'Near Impossible'

This stunning 'selfie' shows the Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars and the Ingenuity helicopter sitting in the background.

Nasa is about to test “the laws of physics” by attempting the “near impossible” feat of launching the first ever controlled flight on another planet, says the space agency. In an extraordinary scientific leap, the $85m Ingenuity helicopter will try to take off and reach an altitude of 10ft in the perilously thin atmosphere of the Red Planet.

"The laws of physics may say it's near impossible to fly on Mars, but actually flying a heavier-than-air vehicle on the red planet is much harder than that," Nasa said. Ingenuity's first flight was originally scheduled for Sunday but is now on hold until at least 14 April - so, it may happen today - after a technical issue emerged while testing its rotors.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of Nasa, says: "Controlled flight on a different planet. It's an amazing feat we're about to attempt."

Ingenuity arrived on Mars attached to the belly of Perseverance in a dramatic landing in the Jezero Crater on 18 February. That followed an eight month journey of nearly 300 million miles. Once on the surface the rover dropped off the helicopter and drove off to a safe distance of about 200ft.

When Ingenuity finally manages to lift off, Perseverance's cameras will be trained on it, so we will all get to see what happened once the images are beamed back to earth.


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