NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night on Mars, following the deployment from the belly of the Perseverance rover Saturday.
The $ 85 million helicopter completed the first major test of its mission, NASA officials announced as they celebrated it was still functioning after enduring -130F on the surface of Mars.
While the team had hoped Ingenuity would save the night, there was a chance it would freeze and crack the unprotected electronics, forcing them to abort the first flight on another planet.
MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said, “This is the first time Ingenuity has been alone on the surface of Mars.”
‘But we now have confirmation that we have the right insulation, the right heaters and enough energy in the battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win for the team. We are delighted to further prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test. ‘
Ingenuity will take its maiden flight on April 11, after which the helicopter will take off, hover in place, and then return to land.
And while the event lasts only 90 seconds, the small feat determines the fate of the mission.
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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night on Mars, following the deployment from the belly of the Perseverance rover Saturday. The $ 85 million helicopter completed the first major test of its mission
In a statement last month, NASA compared the flight to that of the Wright Brothers.
“ While Ingenuity will attempt the first powered controlled flight on another planet, the first powered controlled flight on Earth took place on December 17, 1903, on the windy dunes of Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, ” it reads . .
Orville and Wilbur Wright covered 36 meters in 12 seconds on the first flight. The Wright brothers made four flights that day, each longer than the last. ‘
And a piece of the Wright Brother’s plane is attached to the four pound helicopter to honor the event.
While the team had hoped Ingenuity would save the night, there was a chance it would freeze and crack the unprotected electronics, forcing them to abort the first flight on another planet. Depicted is an image taken by the helicopter under the rover
Unlike his traveling companion, Persistence, Ingenuity is not tasked with searching for life, but will show she can fly through Mars’ thin atmosphere.
It is equipped with 1.20 meter diameter blades that rotate 40 times per second and will be released soon
It is equipped with 1.20-meter-diameter blades that rotate 40 times per second, solar panels to power it, and other technology tailored for its mission to Mars.
Teddy Tzanetos, Deputy Operations Leader for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL, said that if successful, “it will open the doors to future exploration of Mars.”
Ingenuity’s mission lasts 30 sols, which is 24.6 hours of Earth time, with each flight lasting 90 seconds.
‘Our 30 sol test schedule is full of exciting milestones,’ says Tzanetos,
In a statement last month, NASA compared the flight to that of the Wright Brothers. And a piece of the Wright Brother’s plane is attached to the four pound helicopter to honor the event. Depicted is the team connecting the piece to the helicopter
Unlike his traveling companion, Persistence, Ingenuity is not tasked with searching for life, but will show she can fly through Mars’ thin atmosphere. Depicted is the helicopter with its legs on the surface of Mars for the first time
NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Prepares For Its ‘Wright Brothers Moment’
NASA will fly where no one has ever flown: the atmosphere of Mars.
Named Ingenuity, the craft flies at an altitude comparable to 30,000 feet on Earth, allowing it to collect geological data in areas that the rover cannot reach.
NASA compares this mission to “the moment of the Wright brothers,” as it will be the first time in history that an air vehicle flies on another world.
He will first spend up to 60 days charging tied to the Perseverance rover before being released.
If it survives the harsh -90 ° C night, NASA will make the first flight attempt in 30 days.
“Since the Wright brothers first took to the skies from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Dec. 17, 1903, the first flights have been significant milestones in the life of any vehicle designed for air travel,” NASA said in a statement.
“Whatever the future holds, we will collect all flight data within that time.”
With Ingenuity separated from Perseverance and shown to survive the rugged Martian world, it will spend the next two days collecting data on the performance of its thermal control and power systems.
That information will be used to fine-tune Ingenuity’s thermal control system to help it survive harsh Mars nights throughout the flight experiment period.
On April 7, the restrictions that keep the rotor blades together since launch will be released.
This means judging the blades in the same direction until they separate and then making a full ‘big’ turn to make sure they turn properly.
If all goes well, the NASA team will continue with other tests, such as preparing the onboard computers that autonomously fly Ingenuity and how well the helicopter charges.
This will be done by assessing the power of the solar panels and the state of charge of the craft’s six lithium-ion batteries housed in the large square gold box attached to the base.
If all goes well with each of the myriad preflight checks, Ingenuity’s first attempt is to take off from the center of its 33-by-33-foot ‘airfield’ which was chosen for its flatness and lack of obstructions.
Subsequent flight tests will be planned during the Month of Ingenuity, with Perseverance’s cameras providing plenty of high-definition footage of the historic mission.