NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Team is the latest recipient of the National Aeronautic Association's Collier Award, which celebrates the greatest achievements in aeronautics or astronautics in America. And while technology focuses on another planet, the story has a connection here in Tucson. Alum Jeremy Tyler, who earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in 2005, helped design the helicopter that has flown dozens of times through the Martian skies.
Since 2007, Tyler has been employed at AeroVironment in Simi Valley, California. When AV secured a JPL contract for a Martian drone, Tyler was on the team making that a reality. The helicopter, which is small enough to hold in your arms, uses two sets of propellers at soar into the sky. Originally only needing to compete three flights, the Ingenuity rover has completed 28 flights.
NAA awarded the helicopter team for the "first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, thereby opening the skies of Mars and other worlds for future scientific discovery and exploration."