Teach your kids about NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity with a free webcast today

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity is less than a week away from attempting its first flight on the Red Planet and the space agency wants to share the epic feat with students in a webcast today (April 8). 

Engineers with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will host an Ingenuity talk Thursday for kids at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT). The livestream will be available on the NASA JPL Education YouTube channel here at start time. 

Today's talk follows a series of press conferences, webinars and info sessions by JPL to inform the public on Ingenuity's upcoming first flight, which could take off on Sunday (April 11). 

Related: Mars Helicopter Ingenuity snaps 1st color photo on Red Planet

NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity is seen on the surface of the Red Planet by the perseverance rover on April 5, 2021.  (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)
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Students looking for more ways to learn about NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter can tackle a few DIY projects offered by JPL.

How to Make a Paper Helicopter: This project will allow students to build their own lightweight helicopter using paper, scissors, a pencil, measuring tape and a ribbon. You can watch a NASA video guide here, with Spanish subtitles if needed, on how to build the helicopter.

Code a Mars Helicopter Game: This NASA guide allows students to create their own video game to explore Mars with a helicopter like Ingenuity. Students will learn how to code using the Scratch, a visual programming language. You can watch a NASA YouTube video guide on the game here, with Spanish subtitles if needed.

Video: Watch NASA's Mars helicopter unfold like a butterfly

The Ingenuity helicopter arrived on Mars last month as part of NASA's Perseverance rover, which landed on Feb. 18 in an ancient delta of the Jezero Crater. The helicopter is a tiny, four-bladed drone that weighs just 4 lbs. (1.8 kilograms). Its mission is to test flight and scouting technologies that could help future astronauts on Mars. 

Perseverance dropped the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars on Saturday (April 3). The solar-powered helicopter successfully survived its first night alone on Mars and will test its rotors soon for its upcoming flight. Its camera has already begun taking color photos of Mars.

NASA engineers expect Ingenuity to fly a series of increasingly longer flights that reach no higher than 16.5 feet (5 m) above the Martian surface. The Perseverance rover will stay a safe distance away and snap photos of Ingenuity's test flights as the helicopter takes its own pictures from above. 

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.