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NASA lets kids build Mars helicopter video game

NASA lets kids build Mars helicopter video game.   | Photo Credit: NASA JPL

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which is expected to take its first test flight on April 14, will be the first powered flight on another planet. To mark this unique milestone, the space agency has shared a new activity in its Learning Space, that allows children to “code a Mars helicopter video game.”

Children will be using the visual programming language – Scratch, to design their game. They will need a computer with internet access, along with Mars surface images and Mars helicopter sprite image, which are available on a NASA education page, and a Scratch account (optional), to start the game development.

Also Read | NASA's Ingenuity helicopter dropped on Mars' surface ahead of flight

“Create a video game that lets players explore the Red Planet with a helicopter like the one going to Mars with NASA's Perseverance rover,” the space agency said in a web post.

After downloading the images, children can start a new project on the Scratch website, and follow the detailed instructions to make the helicopter fly, add a take-off location, landing site, countdown timer, and finally “create code that announces a successful mission.” They can also watch an instructional video available on YouTube.

Also Read | NASA releases first audio from Mars, video of Perseverance rover landing

“Success for game players can be the same as success for the Mars helicopter mission,” Lyle Tavernier, an educational technology specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in the instructional video. “Mission success will be achieved when the helicopter makes its first controlled flight on Mars, so develop code blocks that announce mission success when the game player successfully flies and lands the helicopter on the target.”

Ingenuity “hitched a ride” to the red planet on NASA’s Perseverance rover, on July 30, and landed on Mars on February 18.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 12:39:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/nasa-lets-kids-build-mars-helicopter-video-game/article34302968.ece

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