History was made Thursday as NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet.
What You Need To Know
- The "West Shore Whirly Girls" is a group of drone enthusiasts at West Shore Junior/High School
- The group is waiting for "Ingenuity" — a helicopter that hitched a ride on the recently landed Mars rover — to take flight
- The small drone-like helicopter will be the first to fly on another planet
But the car sized spacecraft has a companion — a tiny helicopter named "Ingenuity" — and there's a group of Space Coast students following the smaller craft's adventures.
This all-girl group of drone enthusiasts, with future STEM careers on the horizon, is very interested in what the groundbreaking aircraft will do as it hovers above the Martian surface.
"I really enjoy it. It's different than any other club here," said tenth grader Abigail Watson, who is one of the "West Shore Whirly Girls".
"It's great we have all girls just focused on the same thing," she said.
When Brevard Schools pushed for more STEM education a couple years ago, West Shore High coding, robotics, and math teacher Jill Whitacre created the drone team.
It is a group made up of cheerleaders, basketball and soccer players, even drama club members.
"Nowhere in space would they come together if not for this common interest," Whitacre said. "I want to see women's voices in the STEM field."
The students got to see the women, and men, of NASA pull off an out-of-this-world feat Thursday, when the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover made a successful, but intense, landing on Mars.
But the girl drone team is more interested in the rover's sidekick — Ingenuity.
The tiny drone-like helicopter will become the first one to fly on another world.
"Little 'Ingenuity' sitting there waiting," said Whitacre. "They are trying this for the first time, how are they going to do it, what's the engineering behind it."
"Seeing how they are using that, even on a different planet," said Watson, who recently coded a synchronized drone performance.
It is another step that could lead to her own out-of-this-world career.
"Hopefully someday I can use this and apply it to a job like what NASA is doing," she said.
The school is working to get a licensed drone pilot to train the girls for their drone license.
It could lead to a summer job, and even a future career.