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

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

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has resolved the problems with its Ingenuity helicopter on the floor of Mars and is able to fly.

The area company introduced on Saturday that it’s going to try and fly the small, 1.8kg helicopter early on Monday. The primary flight is scheduled to happen at about 3:30am ET (07:30 UTC). It’s going to take a number of hours to relay knowledge from the helicopter to the Perseverance rover, after which to an orbiting satellite tv for pc and again to Earth. So NASA anticipates receiving the primary knowledge again from Mars a while after 6:15am ET.

The area company will start a livestream at the moment, sharing any photographs and reactions from scientists and engineers as people try and fly a powered automobile on one other world for the primary time.

NASA initially deliberate to fly Ingenuity about one week in the past, however throughout a pre-flight take a look at engineers encountered an issue. When the engineers despatched a command to the helicopter to check the rotation of its two counter-rotating blades, every of which is 1.2 meters lengthy, a problem prevented the take a look at from occurring.

Since then the mission crew, led by venture supervisor MiMi Aung at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, labored on a software program repair to that entailed including a number of instructions to the flight sequence. Since this was a change to software program that had been in a steady configuration for about two years, it required in depth testing and validation earlier than being despatched to the helicopter.

However the software program patch appears to have labored, as a result of on Friday the helicopter accomplished a full-speed spin take a look at, organising the chance for a historic flight. For this primary flight, Ingenuity will rise a few meters above the bottom, hover within the air for about 20 to 30 seconds, after which land. Notably, the primary flight of the Wright Brothers’ airplane lasted for 12 seconds.

If this take a look at flight is profitable, NASA will get extra daring in future forays, finally flying the helicopter for as much as 300 meters distance at a time.

That is all experimental, so it is fairly attainable that Ingenuity will fail. However NASA deserves credit score for taking dangers to be able to push the frontier of exploration out that little bit additional. And in trying to fly on Mars, NASA will likely be gathering useful knowledge for an formidable mission to Titan, Dragonfly, that may try and hop throughout the enigmatic moon’s sand dunes a few decade from now.

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

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