Sunday , May 16 2021

The helicopter “ingenuity” landed on Mars and is ready to fly

Ingenuity will make the first flight of a motor vehicle to a planet other than Earth. (Getty)

The US space agency (“NASA”) announced that a small helicopter “ingenuity” installed under the mobile robot “Perseverance”, which arrived on Mars in February, separated from the main vehicle and became on the surface of the Red Planet.

The lab in charge of the helicopter program at NASA posted a tweet on Saturday night: “The Mars helicopter is on the surface.” The “genius” was very light, resembling a large drone, assembled and installed under a mobile robot “Perseverance” that landed on the surface of the Red Planet on February 18, and remained in place until the robot reached the place from which the helicopter was to take off. .

In another tweet, the lab noted that “the (helicopter) flight of 291 million kilometers (471 million kilometers) ended with this small jump of 10 centimeters from the belly of the probe to the surface of Mars,” adding that “the next test: surviving life at night.”

The image that accompanies the tweet showed the Perseverance robot moving away from the helicopter, and should move away in less than 25 hours enough to make room for the sunlight that the helicopter needs to generate its energy using solar panels so it can heat up during cold Martian nights.

Ingenuity has so far secured its power from the power of the rover, but it should be powered more. The chief engineer of the Mars helicopter project, Bob Palram, said: “There is a small coolant that allows the temperature to be maintained at around seven degrees Celsius inside the helicopter, while night temperatures on Mars drop to minus Celsius degrees.” He explained that it “helps protect the main equipment of the device”.

Over the next two days, the ground crew will check that the solar panels are working as scheduled, before starting to test the engines and sensors before the first crash, which is not expected before April 11th.

Ingenuity will make the first flight of a motor vehicle to a planet other than Earth. If the test is successful, it will be a great achievement, because the density of the Martian atmosphere does not exceed one percent of the density of the Earth’s atmosphere.


This Mars event will be as important as the achievement presented by the first engine flight on the planet in 1903. NASA reported that a small piece of cloth from the Wright brothers’ plane that took off more than a century ago in North Carolina on “Enginuity” to greet the first Earth flight summer, and thus is currently on Mars.

The helicopter will receive instructions from Earth a few hours in advance, but it will also analyze its position on the surface of Mars, taking 30 images per second.

This first trip is expected to be very simple, as the helicopter will take off vertically, then rise to a height of three meters and hover at this level for 30 seconds, then rotate on itself before landing again.

The helicopter will receive instructions from Earth a few hours earlier, but it will also analyze its position relative to the surface of Mars during its trip by capturing 30 images per second.

The mobile robot will be located at a checkpoint that will allow it to take pictures with the camera for the “Ingenuity” flight. NASA intends to perform up to five crashes scheduled over the course of the month and graded into difficulties.

The helicopter consists of four superimposed legs, a chassis and two propellers. It measures 1.2 meters from one end of the blade to the other. The fans run at 2,400 rpm, which is five times faster than a regular raft.

The program of this helicopter cost the agency “NASA” about 85 million dollars. In the future, such vehicles could play a very important role in planetary exploration thanks to their ability to reach places that robot-roving cannot reach (for example, across canyons. “

The US space agency is working on another pilot project as part of the “Dragonfly” mission, which will send a drone to Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in 2026, to reach it in 2034.

And “NASA” reminded that in the past, flight tests of vehicles without engines had already been performed on another planet by sending weather balloons to Venus in 1985 as part of the “Vega” program in which the Soviet Union cooperated with other countries.

(French brush)

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