An Incredible Discussion Regarding The Small Mars Helicopter’s Potential


WBUR’s “OnPoint” program recently aired a comprehensive coverage of NASA’s Mars Ingenuity Helicopter project. The host, Meghna Chakrabarti, conducted an extensive interview with the Ingenuity team, covering a range of topics from the use of commercial off-the-shelf products to the do-it-yourself (DIY) aspect of the project, and the inspiration behind creating a self-flying helicopter for Mars’ atmosphere, which is only 1% of Earth’s.

Chakrabarti’s in-depth understanding of the topic and her ability to bring out the unique aspects of the project were highlights of the show. She delved into the creative departures from conventional practices that the team undertook during the project, discussing how these unusual approaches led to unexpected learnings which can be applied to future projects.

The host also touched upon how the project could inspire young minds to explore electronics, given that most of the parts used in the project were readily available in electronics stores. She successfully conveyed the “you can do this too” message throughout the interview, which is bound to resonate with students, parents, and teachers alike.

Despite the success of the interview and the potential it holds to inspire future generation, NASA has not given it due visibility. Critics suggest this is because the space agency prefers to maintain control over its narrative and may not appreciate the fact that people outside NASA can sometimes tell the story of its successes better than the agency itself.

The Ingenuity project is relevant to every NASA directorate, touching on areas such as science, robotics, aeronautics, advanced technology, composite materials, new processors, DIY, commercial space, and preparing for human exploration. However, the lack of cross-departmental collaboration and recognition within NASA often prevents one team from acknowledging the success of another.

In conclusion, the successful flight of Ingenuity on Mars and the subsequent coverage by WBUR’s “OnPoint” program signals the arrival of a new era in space exploration, reminiscent of NASA’s Faster-Better-Cheaper initiative.



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