In this illustration, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter stands on the Red Planet’s floor as NASA’s Perseverance rover (partially seen on the left) rolls away. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California have acquired the primary standing report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which landed Feb. 18, 2021, at Jezero Crater hooked up to the stomach of the company’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. The downlink, which arrived at 3:30 p.m. PST (6:30 p.m. EST) by way of a connection by means of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, signifies that each the helicopter, which can stay hooked up to the rover for 30 to 60 days, and its base station ({an electrical} field on the rover that shops and routes communications between the rotorcraft and Earth) are working as anticipated.

“There are two big-ticket objects we’re searching for in the information: the state of cost of Ingenuity’s batteries in addition to affirmation the base station is working as designed, commanding heaters to show on and off to maintain the helicopter’s electronics inside an anticipated vary,” stated Tim Canham, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter operations lead at JPL. “Both appear to be working great. With this positive report, we will move forward with tomorrow’s charge of the helicopter’s batteries.”

Ensuring that Ingenuity has loads of saved power aboard to take care of heating and different very important capabilities whereas additionally sustaining optimum battery health is essential to the success of the Mars Helicopter. The one-hour power-up will increase the rotorcraft’s batteries to about 30% of its complete capability. A couple of days after that, they’re going to be charged once more to achieve 35%, with future charging classes deliberate weekly whereas the helicopter is hooked up to the rover. The knowledge downlinked throughout tomorrow’s cost classes might be in comparison with battery-charging classes completed throughout cruise to Mars to assist the group plan future charging classes.

Like a lot of the 4-pound (2-kilogram) rotorcraft, the six lithium-ion batteries are off-the-shelf. They presently obtain recharges from the rover’s energy provide. Once Ingenuity is deployed to Mars’ floor, the helicopter’s batteries might be charged solely by its personal photo voltaic panel.

After Perseverance deploys Ingenuity to the floor, the helicopter will then have a 30-Martian-day (31-Earth-day) experimental flight take a look at window. If Ingenuity survives its first bone-chilling Martian nights—the place temperatures dip as little as minus 130 levels Fahrenheit (minus 90 levels Celsius) – the group will proceed with the primary flight of an plane on one other world.

If Ingenuity succeeds in taking off and hovering throughout its first flight, over 90% of the venture’s objectives could have been achieved. If the rotorcraft lands efficiently and stays operable, as much as 4 extra flights may very well be tried, each building on the success of the final.

“We are in uncharted territory, but this team is used to that,” stated MiMi Aung, venture supervisor for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL. “Just about every milestone from here through the end of our flight demonstration program will be a first, and each has to succeed for us to go on to the next. We’ll enjoy this good news for the moment, but then we have to get back to work.”

Next-generation rotorcraft, the descendants of Ingenuity, may add an aerial dimension to future exploration of the Red Planet. These superior robotic flying autos would provide a novel viewpoint not supplied by present orbiters high overhead or by rovers and landers on the bottom, offering high-definition photographs and reconnaissance for robots or people, and allow entry to terrain that’s troublesome for rovers to achieve.


Ingenuity Mars helicopter recharges its batteries in flight


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NASA’s Mars helicopter reports in (2021, February 21)
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