Alabama student names first NASA helicopter on Mars

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NORTHPORT, Alabama – An Alabama high school student has named the first NASA helicopter on Mars to be deployed to the Red Planet later this summer.

Ingenuity, the name submitted by Vaneeza Rupani, has been selected for the 4-pound (1.8 kg) solar powered helicopter, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday. The name invented by the junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport was just one of 28,000 names submitted to NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest for kindergarten to 12 students. in the USA.

“The ingenuity and brilliance of people who work hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel is what allows us all to experience the wonders of space exploration,” Rupani wrote in his essay. “Ingenuity is what allows people to do incredible things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edge of the universe. “

In March, the space agency chose the name Perseverance for the Mars Rover on the basis of a test by a Virginian student, but decided to return to the tests submitted to also choose a name for the helicopter that will accompany the Rover. .

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that Ingenuity “sums up the values ​​that our helicopter technology demonstration will showcase.” Alabama Senator Richard Shelby also congratulated Rupani on the honor.

“It was really cool to be able to be part of something like this,” she told the PA.

Ingenuity has already completed testing in a NASA simulation room in Southern California. Then it will be attached to the belly of Perseverance, which will take off for March in July or August. After arriving on the Red Planet, the helicopter will remain under protected cover to protect it from debris until the time is right for the aircraft to deploy.

It will then have a 31-day flight window to prove that motorized flights can be made on Mars, said NASA.

This year’s mission is part of a program that also includes missions to the Moon to prepare for possible human exploration of Mars. NASA plans to land first woman and next man on the moon in 2024 and establish a continuing human presence “on and around” the moon in eight years time so that they can use it to send astronauts to March.

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This story has been corrected. Rupani’s first name is Vaneeza, not Vaneera.

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