NASA says its Mars helicopter is ready for a historic first flight

Enlarge / NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is seen below in a close-up taken by Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras aboard the Perseverance rover.


NASA has fixed the challenges with its Ingenuity helicopter on the surface area of Mars and is all set to fly.

The area agency declared on Saturday that it will try to fly the tiny, 1.8kg helicopter early on Monday. The initial flight is scheduled to choose spot at about 3:30am ET (07:30 UTC). It will consider a number of hrs to relay facts from the helicopter to the Perseverance rover, and then to an orbiting satellite and again to Earth. So NASA anticipates getting the initial information back again from Mars some time following 6:15am ET.

The area agency will begin a livestream at that time, sharing any photographs and reactions from scientists and engineers as individuals endeavor to fly a powered car on an additional globe for the initially time.

NASA at first planned to fly Ingenuity about just one week in the past, but all through a pre-flight check engineers encountered a difficulty. When the engineers despatched a command to the helicopter to exam the rotation of its two counter-rotating blades, just about every of which is 1.2 meters extensive, an issue prevented the examination from occurring.

Because then the mission group, led by venture manager MiMi Aung at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, labored on a computer software take care of to that entailed introducing a couple of commands to the flight sequence. Since this was a transform to software package that experienced been in a stable configuration for about two several years, it required in depth tests and validation right before getting despatched to the helicopter.

But the software program patch looks to have labored, mainly because on Friday the helicopter finished a complete-velocity spin exam, placing up the chance for a historic flight. For this initial flight, Ingenuity will increase a couple of meters previously mentioned the floor, hover in the air for about 20 to 30 seconds, and then land. Notably, the initial flight of the Wright Brothers’ plane lasted for 12 seconds.

If this test flight is productive, NASA will get far more bold in future forays, finally flying the helicopter for up to 300 meters length at a time.

This is all experimental, so it really is fairly achievable that Ingenuity will are unsuccessful. But NASA justifies credit for having challenges in get to drive the frontier of exploration out that tiny bit further more. And in trying to fly on Mars, NASA will be collecting important data for an formidable mission to Titan, Dragonfly, that will attempt to hop throughout the enigmatic moon’s sand dunes about a decade from now.

Initial Flight of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter: Dwell from Mission Management

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