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Loay Elbasyouni: A Palestinian Muslim who helped develop Mars helicopter

Loay Elbasyouni, who grew up in Palestine’s Gaza, helped NASA build its Mars helicopter Ingenuity which created history by flying above the surface of the red planet for nearly 40 seconds this week.

It was the first powered controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Elbasyouni was part of NASA team which built the miniature robot helicopter.

Loay Elbasyouni travelled to the United States as 20 year old student before he went on to become a part of US space agency.

Data and images from the autonomous flight were transmitted 173 million miles (278 million kilometres) back to Earth where they were received by NASA´s array of ground antennas and processed more than three hours later.

Engineers were tensely watching their screens at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, where the mission had been designed and planned for the past six years.

They broke into applause as one of them read off a checklist of tasks Ingenuity had achieved and concluded: “Ingenuity has performed its first flight — the first flight of a powered aircraft on another planet.”

Ingenuity quickly sent back a black-and-white image from its downward-pointing navigation camera, showing its bug-like shadow cast on the surface.

Then came a choppy colour video from the Perseverance rover showing Ingenuity on the ground, in flight, and then once again at rest.

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