Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA's Mars copter flight could happen as soon as Monday thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA’s Mars copter flight could happen as soon as Monday

Hexbyte Glen Cove

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, with all four of its legs deployed, is pictured before dropping from the belly of the Perseverance rover in March 2021

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter could make its first flight over the Red Planet as soon as Monday, the US space agency reported, following a delay of more than a week due to a possible technical issue.

The mini-helicopter’s trip will mark the first-ever powered, controlled flight on another planet, and will help NASA reap invaluable data about the conditions on Mars.

“NASA is targeting no earlier than Monday, April 19, for the first flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter,” the reported Saturday.

Data will return to Earth “a few hours following the autonomous flight,” which would take off at approximately 3:30 am (0730 GMT), NASA said.

Ingenuity’s first trip was initially set for last Sunday, but was delayed after a potential issue emerged during a high-speed test of the four-pound (1.8 kilogram) helicopter’s rotors.

NASA calls the unprecedented helicopter operation highly risky: The flight is a challenge because the air on Mars is so thin—less than one percent of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.







The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s carbon fiber blades can be seen in this video taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on April 8, 2021, the 48th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. They are performing a wiggle test before the actual spin-up to ensure they were working properly. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

The helicopter arrived on Mars attached to the underside of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on February 18.

After the helicopter’s flight, Ingenuity will send Perseverance technical data on what it has done, and that information will be transmitted back to Earth.

The helicopter mission is be the equivalent on Mars of the first powered flight on Earth—by the Wright brothers in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. A piece of fabric from that plane has been tucked inside Ingenuity in honor of that feat.



© 2021 AFP

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NASA’s Mars copter flight could happen as soon as Monday (2021, April 18)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA delays Mars copter flight for tech check thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA delays Mars copter flight for tech check

Hexbyte Glen Cove

NASA has delayed the Mars flight of its Ingenuity helicopter

NASA has delayed by at least several days the first flight of its mini-helicopter on Mars after a possible tech issue emerged while testing its rotors, the US space agency said Saturday.

Ingenuity’s trip, which is to be the first-ever powered, controlled flight on another planet, was set for Sunday but is now on hold until at least April 14.

A high-speed test of the four-pound (1.8 kilogram) helicopter’s rotors on Friday ended earlier than expected due to an alert of a potential issue.

“The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue,” NASA said in a statement. “Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.”

NASA noted the copter is “safe and healthy” and had sent information back to Earth.

Initially the plan for Sunday was to have Ingenuity fly for 30 seconds to take a picture of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars on February 18 with the helicopter attached to its underside.

NASA calls the unprecedented helicopter operation highly risky, but says it could reap invaluable data about the conditions on Mars.

The flight is a true challenge because the air on Mars is so thin—less than one percent of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.

This means Ingenuity must spin its much faster than a helicopter needs to do on Earth in order to fly.

After the flight, Ingenuity will send Perseverance technical data on what it has done, and that information will be transmitted back to Earth.

This will include a black and white photo of the Martian surface that Ingenuity is programmed to snap while flying.

A day later, once its batteries have charged up again, Ingenuity is to transmit another photo—in color, of the Martian horizon, taken with a different camera.

If the flight is a success, NASA plans another no more than four days later. It plans as many as five altogether, each successively more difficult, over the course of a month.

NASA hopes to make the helicopter rise five meters (16 feet) and then move laterally.

The mission is be the equivalent on Mars of the first powered on Earth—by the Wright brothers in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. A piece of fabric from that plane has been tucked inside Ingenuity in honor of that feat.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
NASA delays Mars copter flight for tech check (2021, April 11)
retrieved 11 April 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-nasa-mars-copter-flight-tech.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA space copter ready for first Mars flight thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA space copter ready for first Mars flight

Hexbyte Glen Cove

This NASA illustration depicts Mars Helicopter Ingenuity during a test flight on the Red Planet

The helicopter that NASA has placed on Mars could make its first flight over the Red Planet within two days after a successful initial test of its rotors, the US space agency said Friday.

The current plan for the first-ever attempt at powered, controlled on another planet is for the four-pound (1.8 kilogram) helicopter, dubbed the Ingenuity, to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater on Sunday at 10:54 pm US eastern time (0254 GMT Monday) and hover 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for a half-minute, NASA said.

“The helicopter is good, it’s looking healthy,” said Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead, in a press conference.

“Last night, we did our 50 RPM spin, where we spun the blades very slowly and carefully,” he said.

The plan for Sunday is to have it rise, flying only vertically, hover and rotate for 30 seconds to take a picture of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars on February 18 with the helicopter attached to its underside.

Then the Ingenuity will be lowered back down onto the surface.

The flight will be autonomous, pre-programmed into the aircraft because of the 15 minutes it takes for signals to travel from Earth to Mars, and also due to the demanding environment of the distant planet.

“Mars is hard not only when you land, but when you try to take off from it and fly around, too,”said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager.

She explained that the planet has significantly less gravity than Earth, but less than one percent the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere at the surface.

Graphic on Ingenuity, the helicopter that hitched a ride on the Perseverance rover, which is scheduled to make its first flight attempt no earlier than April 11.

The makes it necessary for the Ingenuity to be able to spin its much faster than a helicopter on Earth in order to fly.

“Put those things together, and you have a vehicle that demands every input be right,” said Aung.

NASA captured the test of the rotors in a short video shot from the rover just a few meters away, showing what looks like a small drone.

Aung said a second test would be conducted today, with the rotors running at high speed.

“The only uncertainty remains the actual environment of Mars,” she said, mentioning possible winds.

NASA calls the unprecedented helicopter operation highly risky, but says it could reap invaluable data about the conditions on Mars.

NASA plans up to five flights, each successively more difficult, in a period of a month.



© 2021 AFP

Citation:
NASA space copter ready for first Mars flight (2021, April 10)
retrieved 10 April 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-nasa-space-copter-ready-mars.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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