Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make first flight attempt Sunday

(9 April 2021 – JPL) NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is 2 away from making humanity’s first try at powered, managed flight of an plane on one other planet.

If all proceeds as deliberate, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is predicted to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. native Mars photo voltaic time (10:54 p.m. EDT, 7:54 p.m. PDT), hovering 10 ft (three meters) above the floor for as much as 30 seconds. Mission management specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California count on to obtain the primary information from the primary flight try the next morning at round 4:15 a.m. EDT (1:15 a.m. PDT).

ingenuity 1

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, permitting them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This picture was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the next sol, April 8, 2021. (courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

“Whereas Ingenuity carries no science devices, the little helicopter is already making its presence felt the world over, as future leaders observe its progress towards an unprecedented first flight,” stated Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters. “We do tech demos like this to push the envelope of our expertise and supply one thing on which the subsequent missions and the subsequent technology can construct. Simply as Ingenuity was impressed by the Wright brothers, future explorers will take off utilizing each the info and inspiration from this mission.”

The Mars Helicopter is a high-risk, high-reward know-how demonstration. If Ingenuity have been to come across difficulties throughout its 30-sol (Martian day) mission, it will not affect the science gathering of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission.

Flying in a managed method on Mars is much tougher than flying on Earth. Although gravity on Mars is about one-third that of Earth’s, the helicopter should fly with the help of an environment whose stress on the floor is only one% that of Earth. If profitable, engineers will achieve invaluable in-flight information at Mars for comparability to the modeling, simulations, and assessments carried out again right here on Earth. NASA additionally will achieve its first hands-on expertise working a rotorcraft remotely at Mars. These datasets can be invaluable for potential future Mars missions that might enlist next-generation helicopters so as to an aerial dimension to their explorations.

“From day considered one of this challenge our workforce has needed to overcome a wide selection of seemingly insurmountable technical challenges,” stated MiMi Aung, Ingenuity challenge supervisor at JPL. “And right here we’re – safely on Mars – on the eve of our first flight try. We acquired this far with a never-say-die angle, a variety of associates from many various technical disciplines, and an company that likes to show far-out concepts into actuality.”

Anatomy of a First Flight

Sunday’s flight can be autonomous, with Ingenuity’s steering, navigation, and management techniques doing the piloting. That’s principally as a result of radio indicators will take 15 minutes, 27 seconds to bridge the 173-million-mile (278-million-kilometer) hole between Mars and Earth. It’s additionally as a result of nearly every part in regards to the Pink Planet is demanding.

“Mars is tough not solely once you land, however once you attempt to take off from it and fly round, too,” stated Aung. “It has considerably much less gravity, however lower than 1% the stress of our environment at its floor. Put these issues collectively, and you’ve got a car that calls for each enter be proper.”

Occasions main as much as the primary flight take a look at start when the Perseverance rover, which serves as a communications base station for Ingenuity, receives that day’s directions from Earth. These instructions can have traveled from mission controllers at JPL by means of NASA’s Deep House Community to a receiving antenna aboard Perseverance. Parked at “Van Zyl Overlook,” some 215 ft (65 meters) away, the rover will transmit the instructions to the helicopter about an hour later.

Then, at 10:53 p.m. EDT (7:53 p.m. PDT), Ingenuity will start present process its myriad preflight checks. The helicopter will repeat the blade-wiggle take a look at it carried out three sols prior. If the algorithms working the steering, navigation, and management techniques deem the take a look at outcomes acceptable, they’ll activate the inertial measurement unit (an digital gadget that measures a car’s orientation and rotation) and inclinometer (which measures slopes). If every part checks out, the helicopter will once more modify the pitch of its rotor blades, configuring them in that they don’t produce raise through the early portion of the spin-up.

The spin-up of the rotor blades will take about 12 seconds to go from zero to 2,537 rpm, the optimum pace for the primary flight. After a last techniques test, the pitch of the rotor blades can be commanded to alter but once more – this time to allow them to dig into these few molecules of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon accessible within the environment close to the Martian floor. Moments later, the primary experimental flight take a look at on one other planet will start.

“It ought to take us about six seconds to climb to our most peak for this primary flight,” stated JPL’s Håvard Grip, the flight management lead for Ingenuity. “After we hit 10 ft, Ingenuity will go right into a hover that ought to – if all goes effectively – for about 30 seconds.”

Whereas hovering, the helicopter’s navigation digicam and laser altimeter will info into the navigation pc to make sure Ingenuity stays not solely stage, however in the midst of its 33-by-33-foot (10-by-10-meter) airfield – a patch of Martian actual property chosen for its flatness and lack of obstructions. Then, the Mars Helicopter will descend and contact again down on the floor of Jezero Crater, sending information again to Earth, by way of Perseverance, to verify the flight.

Perseverance is predicted to acquire imagery of the flight utilizing its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers, with the photographs anticipated to return down that night (early morning Monday, April 12, in Southern California). The helicopter can even doc the flight from its perspective, with a colour picture and a number of other lower-resolution black-and-white navigation photos probably being accessible by the subsequent morning.

“The Wright brothers solely had a handful of eyewitnesses to their first flight, however the historic second was fortunately captured in a terrific {photograph},” stated Michael Watkins, of JPL. “Now 117 later, we’re capable of present a beautiful alternative to share the outcomes of the primary try at powered, managed flight on one other world by way of our robotic photographers on Mars.”

Extra about Ingenuity

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was constructed by JPL, which additionally manages this know-how demonstration challenge for NASA Headquarters in Washington. It’s supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics, and House Expertise mission directorates. NASA’s Ames Analysis Heart in California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Langley Analysis Heart in Hampton, Virginia, supplied vital flight efficiency evaluation and technical help.

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is this system government for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. At JPL, MiMi Aung is the challenge supervisor and J. (Bob) Balaram is chief engineer.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, constructed and manages operations of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

Read More


Recent Articles

Related Stories

Leave a Reply