Flying into space and landing on another planet is already quite the accomplishment, but it seems that NASA has taken things further by not only landing on Mars, but they have also successfully flown a helicopter on the planet. By doing so, it makes it their first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
This was accomplished using the Ingenuity helicopter where it made its trip to Mars on the Perseverance rover which landed back in February. The helicopter was successfully flown where it hovered in the air for a few moments before it landed back down, but that alone resulted in cheers at mission control.
According to MiMi Aung, the Ingenuity project manager at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet.” As to the significance of being able to pilot a helicopter on Mars, aside from the achievement of being the first, is that it opens up the door to a future where scientists and engineers could explore the planet using other methods.
It could also eventually make it possible for when humans arrive on Mars to explore other parts of the planet that might not be possible using rovers, and also travel to other parts in a faster manner.