Feb 3, 2022

Glowing Helicopters on Mars

Posted by in categories: drones, space

If the Ingenuity helicopter would fly at night on Mars, its very possible the whirring rotors would create enough static electricity in the extremely dry Martian atmosphere to cause the air around the craft to glow.

“The faint glow would be most visible during evening hours when the background sky is darker,” said William Farrell, from Goddard Space Flight Center and lead author of a paper on this topic. “NASA’s experimental Ingenuity helicopter does not fly during this time, but future drones could be cleared for evening flight and look for this glow.”

If you’ve ever shuffled your feet across a wool carpet on a dry winter day, and then reached out to touch a metal doorknob, you’re familiar with the static discharge that creates a little zap — a spark — that leaps between your fingers and the metal knob.

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