The Perseverance rover photographed the Ingenuity helicopter before (left) and after (right) it spun its rotor blades. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Update (April 10, 2021): NASA delayed the Ingenuity helicopter’s first Mars flight to Wednesday, after a test to spin the rotor blades at full speed was abruptly cut short. Read more in our story.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is charging up and spinning its blades in preparation to fly above the Martian surface.

The 4-pound drone is set to lift off early on Monday, rise 10 feet above the dusty red ground of Mars’ Jezero Crater, then gently touch back down. The entire flight should last about 40 seconds, but it could forever change the way NASA explores other planets.

Future Mars helicopters could scout out canyons and mountains that rovers can’t

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