6 things to know about NASA’s Mars helicopter on its way to Mars

2. Mars will not make it easier for Ingenuity to attempt its first powered and controlled flight on another planet.

Because Mars’ atmosphere is so thin, the creativity is designed to be light, with much larger rotating blades and spinning much faster than is required for a helicopter with an ingenuity block on Earth.

The Red Planet also has temperatures above chilling temperatures, with cold nights reaching minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius) in Crater Lake, Rover and helicopter landing site. These temperatures will push the boundaries of the original design of the off-the-shelf parts used in creativity. Tests on Earth at projected temperatures indicate that the Ingenuity parts should function as designed, but the team is looking forward to the real test on Mars.

“Mars isn’t completely pulling the welcome rug,” said Tim Canham, Ingenuity Operations Leader at JPL. “One of the first things Ingenuity will have to do when it reaches Mars is to survive its first night.”

3. Innovation depends on the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission for safe passage to Mars and for operations on the surface of the Red Planet.

Ingenuity embraced Sideways Under the belly of the persistent rover with a cover to protect it from debris during landing. Both the craft and helicopter were safely housed inside the spacecraft’s shell-like entry capsule during its 293 million miles (471 million km) flight to Mars. The power system on the March 2020 spacecraft is periodically charging Ingenuity batteries on the way there.

To reach the surface of Mars, he rides creativity with perseverance as it descends. Rover Entry, disembark and landing system It features a hypersonic umbrella and new “brains” for Avoid risks independently, And components Sky crane maneuver, Which leads to the rover being launched to Mars from a lander. Only about 50% of the attempts to land on Mars, by any space agency, have been successful.

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Once a suitable location for the helicopter deployment is found, the Mars Rover’s helicopter delivery system will cast the landing cover, rotate the helicopter into a gradient configuration, and Gently drop creativity On the surface for the first few months after landing. For the duration of the helicopter’s start-up and flight test campaign, the rover will assist in back and forth communications from the ground. The rover team also plans to collect photos of the creativity.

4. Creativity is the smart thing of a little robot.

Delays are an integral part of communication with spacecraft over interplanetary distances, which means that JPL’s Ingenuity Flight Controllers will not be able to control the helicopter with a joystick. In fact, even after the flight is over, they will not be able to look at engineering data or photos from every flight.

So creativity will make some of its own decisions based on the parameters its engineers have put on the ground. The helicopter has some kind of programmable thermostat, for example, which will keep it warm on Mars. During the flight, Ingenuity will analyze sensor data and terrain imagery to ensure that they remain on the flight path designed by the project’s engineers.

5. The creativity team calculates success step by step.

Due to the experimental nature of Ingenuity, the team has a long list of milestones a helicopter must reach before it can take off and land in Spring 2021. The team will celebrate each milestone:

  • Survive the cruise to Mars and land on the red planet
  • Spread safely on the surface of the belly of persistence
  • Keep warm independently during very cold Mars nights
  • It charges itself independently with a solar panel above its rotors
  • Successful communication to and from the helicopter via a subsystem known as the Mars Helicopter Base Station on the Rover
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If the first test flight on another planet succeeds, the Ingenuity team will try more test flights.

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