6 things about NASA’s Mars helicopter to go to Mars


2. Mars will not make it easy for one to attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Because Mars’ atmosphere is very thin, Ingenuity is designed for light, with rotor blades that are much larger and spin than would be required for a helicopter of inborn mass on Earth.

The Red Planet is beyond the chilling temperature of the bones, along with freezing at minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius) at the landing site of the Jereso crater, rover, and helicopter in the Red Planet. These temperatures will push the basic design limits of off-the-shelf parts used in Ingenuity. Tests on Earth at approximate temperatures indicate that parts of the Ingenuity should work as designed, but the team looks forward to actual testing on Mars.

“Mars at JPL isn’t really pulling the welcome mat,” said Tim Canham, head of operations at Ingenuity. “One of the first things Ingenuity has to do is just survive its first night when it goes to Mars.”

3. The horoscope relies on the Mars 2020 persistence mission for safe passage to Mars and operating on the surface of the red planet.

The ingenuity is placed firmly under the belly of the rover, to protect it from debris during landing. Both the rover and the helicopter are safely present inside a clamshell-like spacecraft entry capsule during a 293 million mile (471 million km) trip to Mars. The system of electricity on the Mars 2020 spacecraft periodically charges the battery of Ingenuity along the way.

To reach the surface of Mars, Ingenuity rides as strongly as it lands. The rover’s entry, descent, and landing system have components for a supersonic parachute, new “brains” and sky crane maneuvers to autonomously evade threats, reducing the rover on Mars from a descending vehicle. About 50% of attempts by any space agency to land on Mars have been successful.

Once the helicopter has found a suitable place to deploy, the Rover’s Mars helicopter delivery system will shed the landing cover, roll the helicopter downward by foot, and drop ingenuity to the surface in the first few months after landing. During the commissioning and flight test operation of the helicopter, the rover will assist in moving communications back and forth from the earth. The Rover team also plans to collect images of Ingenuity.

4. Simplicity is smart for a small robot.

The delay is an inherent part of communicating with spacecraft over intertidal distances, which means that the flight controllers of Ingenuity in the JPL will not be able to control the helicopter with a joystick. In fact, they will not be able to see engineering data or images from each flight after the flight.

Therefore Ingenuity will make some decisions of its own based on the parameters set by its engineers on Earth. For example, the helicopter has a type of programmable thermostat, which will keep it warm on Mars. During the flight, Ingenuity will analyze the sensor data and images of the terrain to ensure that the project stays on the flight path designed by engineers.

5. The Ingenuity team counts success one step at a time.

Given the experimental nature of Ingenuity, the team has a long list of milestones the helicopter must reach in the spring of 2021 before landing and landing. The team will celebrate each milestone:

  • Save Mars from a cruise and land on the Red Planet
  • Deployment from the abdomen to the surface firmly
  • Staying warm autonomously through intensely cold Martian nights
  • When charged autonomously with a solar panel, its rotors move up
  • Successfully communicating with the helicopter via a subsystem known as the Mars helicopter base station on the rover

If the first experimental flight test on another planet is successful, the Ingenuity team will attempt more test flights.

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