NASA’s Mars helicopter survives only the first cold Martian night


On April 7, the restraints that have held rotor blades together since before launch are scheduled to be released. If the mission team reaches that milestone, the next few suns will involve more testing of the rotor blades and the motors that drive them. There are also checks of the inertial measurement unit (an electronic device that measures a body’s orientation and angular velocity) and on-board computers tasked with flying the helicopter autonomously. In addition, the team will continue to monitor the helicopter’s energy performance, including evaluating the energy of the solar panels and the state of charge of the ship’s six lithium-ion batteries.

If all goes well with each of the myriad pre-flight checks, Ingenuity’s first attempt to take off from the center of its 33-by-33-foot (10-by-10-meter) “airfield”, chosen for its flatness and lack of obstructions – It will not be before the night of April 11.

Subsequent flight tests will be scheduled throughout Ingenuity Month, and Perseverance cameras will provide many high-definition images of the historic mission.

More about wit

The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, NASA’s Aeronautical Research Mission Directorate, and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided important flight performance analysis and technical assistance.

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars helicopter. At JPL, MiMi Aung is the project manager and J. (Bob) Balaram is the chief engineer.

JPL, which is run for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages the operations of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter.

To learn more about Ingenuity:

https://go.nasa.gov/ingenuity-press-kit

and

https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter

More about perseverance

A key objective of the Perseverance mission on Mars is astrobiology, including searching for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and store Martian rocks and regoliths (broken rocks and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

JPL built and manages the operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more information on perseverance:

nasa.gov/perseverance

and

mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

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