Picking up on a suggestion from an Alabama high-school junior, NASA has given an ingenious name to the first helicopter due to take flight on Mars.
- The new name, Ingenuity, was submitted by Vaneeza Rupani of Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Ala., for NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.? NASA went with a different name for the 2020 Mars rover — Perseverance — but held onto Rupani’s suggestion for the rotor-equipped drone that will be deployed from the rover.
- In her essay, Rupani explained that “ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe.” In a news release, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the name “encapsulates the values that our helicopter tech demo will showcase for everyone when it takes off next year as the first aircraft on another planet’s surface.”
- The Perseverance mission is due for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July or August, with the landing on Mars set for next February. After touchdown, the 4-pound, solar-powered Ingenuity helicopter is to be deployed from Perseverance’s belly for a series of brief flights during a monthlong test window.