NASA Video Reveals Mars Helicopter’s Historic First Flight

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NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, made historical past this week when it turned the primary plane to carry out managed, powered flight on one other planet.

The dronelike flying machine, which weighs 4 kilos and stands 19 inches excessive, hovered about 3 meters above the Martian floor for about 25 seconds earlier than touchdown safely on the bottom.

On Monday, NASA posted a video (high) displaying the whole flight. It was captured by a digital camera on the Perseverance rover, which arrived on the purple planet in February with Ingenuity connected to its stomach.

As knowledge needs to be despatched to and returned from Mars over tons of of hundreds of thousands of miles utilizing orbiting satellites and NASA’s Deep House Community, Ingenuity can’t be flown with a joystick, and its flight was not observable from Earth in actual time, NASA mentioned.

This meant that the helicopter’s historic flight was autonomous, piloted by onboard steering, navigation, and management programs working numerous algorithms.

One of many many challenges for engineers was to create an plane that might get airborne and maintain secure flight in Mars’ superthin environment, which is round 100 occasions thinner than Earth’s. To get off the bottom, for instance, Ingenuity needed to spin its 4 carbon-fiber blades — organized into two rotors — at 2,500 revolutions per minute (rpm), a lot quicker than the roughly 500 rpm utilized by helicopters on Earth.

“What’s necessary to bear in mind is that there isn’t a handbook for constructing Mars helicopters. We’ve by no means finished this earlier than — humanity has by no means put a helicopter on the purple planet,” Teddy Tzanetos, deputy operations lead for Ingenuity, advised BBC Information after the profitable flight. “House is tough; area is difficult. There have been quite a lot of massive milestones for the venture, however these all have been constructing as much as as we speak.”

Tzanetos mentioned Ingenuity would carry out 4 extra flights of accelerating complexity within the coming months, and that every profitable flight will present engineers with big quantities of helpful knowledge, including, “That [data] is de facto the treasure trove of knowledge for the flight venture as a result of that’s what’s going for use to assist construct and design and encourage future plane missions to the purple planet.”

NASA may use future area helicopters to survey the Martian floor from an in depth distance — unhindered by terrain — and to gather knowledge for mapping routes for future Mars rovers. NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can also be used as the idea for extra subtle flying machines that might someday be used to discover different locations in our photo voltaic system.

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