Hexbyte Glen Cove Mars helicopter makes 4th flight, gets extra month of flying thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Mars helicopter makes 4th flight, gets extra month of flying

Hexbyte Glen Cove

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (above center to the right) is viewed by one of the hazard cameras aboard the Perseverance rover during the helicopter’s fourth flight on April 30, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After proving powered, controlled flight is possible on the Red Planet, NASA’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter has new orders: scout ahead of the Perseverance rover to assist in its search for past signs of microbial life.

The next phase extends the rotocraft’s mission beyond the original month-long technology demonstration. Now, the goal is to assess how well flyers can help future exploration of Mars and other worlds.

“We’re going to gather information on the operational support capability of the helicopter while Perseverance focuses on its ,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, told reporters Friday.

The type of reconnaissance that Ingenuity performs could one day also prove useful to human missions, by scoping out the best paths for explorers to traverse, and reaching locations that aren’t otherwise possible.

The four pound (1.8 kilogram) mini chopper successfully performed the fourth of its five originally planned flights on Friday, “going farther & faster than ever before,” NASA tweeted.

The fifth is planned in the coming days, then its mission will be extended, initially by one Martian month.

Whether it continues beyond that will depend on if it’s still in good shape and if it’s helping, rather than hindering, the rover’s goals of collecting soil and rock samples for future lab analysis on Earth.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (upper right) using its left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rovers mast. This is one still frame from a sequence captured by the camera while taking video. This image was acquired on Apr. 30, 2021 (Sol 69) at the Local Mean Solar Time of 12:33:27. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Chief engineer Bob Balaram predicted a limiting factor will be its ability to withstand the frigid Mars nights, where temperatures plunge to -130 degrees Fahrenheit (-90 degrees Celsius).

Ingenuity keeps warm with a solar-powered heater, but it was only designed to last for a month and engineers aren’t sure “how many freeze and thaw cycles (it) can go through before something breaks,” he said.

NASA initially thought Perseverance would be driving away from the site where it landed at the Jezero Crater on February 18, just north of the planet’s equator.

That would have meant the rover leaving Ingenuity behind and moving beyond communications range.

Now though, the agency wants to keep Perseverance in the area for some time after finding a rocky outcrop that they believe contains some of the oldest material on the crater floor.







Credit: NASA

They hope to collect their first sample in July.

Ingenuity’s exploits have captured the public’s imagination since it made its first flight on April 19, but NASA said this wasn’t a factor in its decision to allow the two robots to keep exploring Mars together.

“We really wish to spend a considerable amount of time where we are and so it’s sort of a fortuitous alignment,” said Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley.



© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Accelerator makes cross-country trek to enable laser upgrade thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Accelerator makes cross-country trek to enable laser upgrade

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Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has shipped the final new section of accelerator that it has built for an upgrade of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). The section of accelerator, called a cryomodule, has begun a cross-country road trip to DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where it will be installed in LCLS-II, the world’s brightest X-ray laser. Credit: DOE’s Jefferson Lab

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has shipped the final new section of accelerator that it has built for an upgrade of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). The section of accelerator, called a cryomodule, has begun a cross-country road trip to DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where it will be installed in LCLS-II, the world’s brightest X-ray laser.

“This is the culmination of seven years of work,” said Naeem Huque, the cost account manager who led the cryomodule efforts at Jefferson Lab. “A lot of the staff in Jefferson Lab’s Superconducting Radiofrequency Institute came in right from the start of the project, and they’re still here seeing it off. We are happy to see this project conclude successfully.”

LCLS-II is a project to upgrade the existing Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the world’s first X-ray free-electron laser. The X-ray pulses generated by the machine act like a powerful microscope, allowing researchers to watch chemical reactions in real time, probe materials and more. Once complete, LCLS-II will begin its reign as the biggest and brightest X-ray free-electron laser in the world.

LCLS-II will provide even better resolution than the original LCLS, which accelerated electrons at room temperature and generated 120 X-ray laser pulses per second. The upgraded machine will accelerate electrons at superconducting temperatures to generate 1 million X-ray laser pulses per second. Jefferson Lab is a key contributor to the upgrade project, providing a total of 21 cryomodules for the new superconducting portion of LCLS-II since work began in 2013.

The superconducting that will power the upgraded machine is made up of cryomodules. Electrons zip through the cryomodules, where they are loaded up with extra energy. Then, magnets make the electrons zigzag to give off their energy as X-rays. The upgraded LCLS will boast 37 cryomodules in total. Of those,18 are from Jefferson Lab (plus three spares), and the rest will come from Fermilab, another key contributor.

“The LCLS-II cryomodules are the highest-performing cryomodules that anybody has ever built,” said Joe Preble, senior team leader for the LCLS-II project at Jefferson Lab. “We pushed out the performance frontier on this sort of technology and turned it into a regular, turnkey process.”

Jefferson Lab is a world leader in superconducting radiofrequency accelerator technologies and is home to the first large-scale SRF accelerator. As the team at Jefferson Lab contributed to the design of, built, tested and shipped these record-breaking cryomodules for LCLS-II, they encountered unprecedented challenges to push the cryomodule technology’s performance.

“These very high-performing cryomodules are sensitive to things that we never had to worry about before, like our assembly procedures, the way we treat materials, the way we build things,” Preble said.

Jefferson Lab modified its facilities to accommodate the cryomodules, which were a different shape and size than those that came before. Jefferson Lab staff members even figured out a new way to ship the finished cryomodules, after some broke during shipment.

“We explored a lot of different options, everything from hiring a NASA aircraft to take it over there, to trying to send it by train or ship,” Huque explained.

In the end, they managed to improve safety without pulling the cryomodules off the road. Sitting in a bed of springs to prevent damage from jostling, Jefferson Lab’s newly shipped cryomodule will travel almost 3,000 miles to its home in the LCLS-II linear accelerator in Menlo Park, California, over the course of 72 hours.

However, Jefferson Lab’s work on improving the LCLS is likely not yet done. Another upgrade to this accelerator may be on the horizon: LCLS-II HE (High Energy). If that project is greenlighted, Jefferson Lab will build between 10 and 13 more cryomodules with a newer procedure. It’s expected that those cryomodules will have even better performance than the 21 they just finished.

“I think that’s one of the biggest signs that we’ve done really well, is that something that was already ambitious is now getting pushed even further,” Huque said. The HE upgrade, which is the culmination of work by staff at both Jefferson lab and Fermilab, will dramatically increase the performance capabilities of LCLS-II.”

For now, this momentous final delivery closes the book on Jefferson Lab’s part in delivering new cryomodules for LCLS-II while the R&D and prototyping for HE is already ongoing. Its conclusion comes thanks to the help of many.

“From the procurement people to the engineers, the scientists, the technicians, and the administrators, it’s taken everybody working together across laboratories to get this done,” Preble said. “It’s a great success and demonstration of the way the DOE needs to continue to work in building these new big projects.”



Citation:
Accelerator makes cross-country trek to enable laser upgrade (2020, November 21)
retrieved 22 November 2020