NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Prepares for First Flight

Ingenuity stays attached to the abdomen of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars on Feb. 18. The rover now is in transit into the “airfield” in which Ingenuity will try to fly. Once installed, Ingenuity will have 30 Martian days, or sols, (31 Earth times) to run its evaluation flight effort.

Likewise, we wish to know about the possible Ingenuity has for the future of scientific study,” explained Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters.

Flying in a controlled fashion on Mars is a lot harder than flying Earth. The Red Planet has important gravity (roughly one-third of Earth’s) but its air is merely 1 percent as dense as Earth’s on the surface. Throughout Martian day, the world’s surface receives only about half of the quantity of solar energy that reaches Earth throughout its day, and night temperatures can fall as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), which may freeze and crack unprotected electric parts.

To fit inside the available accommodations supplied from the Perseverance rover, the Ingenuity helicopter has to be small. To fly in the Mars environment, it has to be lightweight. To endure the freezing Martian nights, then it has to have sufficient energy to power heaters. The machine — by the operation of its rotors from the rarified atmosphere to its own solar panels, electric heaters, and other elements — continues to be tested and retested.”Every step we’ve taken since this trip started six decades ago was uncharted land in the background of aircraft,” explained Bob Balaram, Mars Helicopter chief engineer in JPL. “And while becoming set up to the surface is going to be a large challenge, living that first night on Mars alone, with no rover protecting it and maintaining it powered, will probably be a much larger one.”

Deploying the Helicopter
Ahead of Ingenuity takes its initial flight on Mars, it has to be squarely at the center of its airfield — a 33-by-33-foot (10-by-10-meter) patch of Martian property selected because of its flatness and lack of obstructions. When the helicopter along with rover teams affirm that Perseverance is located exactly where they want it to be within the airfield, the complicated procedure to set up the helicopter onto the surface of Mars starts.

“Like all the helicopters, this kind of installation hasn’t been achieved before,” said Farah Alibay, Mars Helicopter integration cause the Perseverance rover. “Once we initiate the installation there’s not any turning back. All activities are tightly coordinated, irreversible, and reliant on each other. When there’s a sign that something is not going as anticipated, we might choose to hold off to get a sol or even more until we’ve got a much better idea of what’s happening.”

The helicopter installation procedure will take roughly six sols (six days, four hours on Earth). On the very first sol, the group on Earth will trigger a bolt-breaking apparatus, releasing a locking mechanism that helped maintain the helicopter securely against the rover’s gut through launching and Mars landing. The subsequent sol, they’ll fire a cable-cutting pyrotechnic device, allowing the mechanized arm which holds Ingenuity to start rotating the helicopter from its flat position. Also, this is when the rotorcraft will expand two of its four landing legs.

Throughout the next sol of the installation sequence, a tiny electrical motor will complete rotating Ingenuity till it stinks, bringing the helicopter fully perpendicular. Throughout the fourth sol, the last two landing legs will snap into place. On every one of these four sols, the Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for both Operations and eNgineering (WATSON) imager will require affirmation shots of Ingenuity since it unfolds to its flight arrangement. In its final place, the helicopter will probably hang suspended at approximately 5 inches (13 centimeters) within the Martian surface. At that stage, just a single bolt along with a few dozen miniature electrical contacts will link the helicopter into Perseverance. At the sol of installation, the staff will utilize the last chance to use Perseverance as a power supply and control Ingenuity’s six cells.