NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attempts maiden flight over Red Planet

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will make its first flight over the Red Planet Mars on Monday, at 3.30 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT), according to US space agency NASA.

This will be the first-ever controlled flight over another planet and will help NASA collect invaluable data about conditions on Mars. If the experimental flight test program succeeds, the data returned could benefit future explorations of the Red Planet by adding the aerial dimension, “Data will return to Earth a few hours following the autonomous flight,” NASA said.

Ingenuity was scheduled to fly over the Planet last Sunday but got delayed due to technical issues. The unprecedented helicopter operation is termed as highly risky by NASA as the air on Mars is thin; less than one percent of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover took this selfie on May 12, 2019 (the 2,405th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). To the lower-left of the rover are its two recent drill holes, at targets called “Aberlady” and “Kilmarie.”Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Ingenuity was carried to Mars attached to the underside of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on February 18. Perseverance is on its own mission to finds any signs of life on the planet near a dried-up delta.

After the helicopter’s flight, Ingenuity will send Perseverance technical data on what it records, and that information will be transmitted back to Earth.

The helicopter’s maiden flight over the red Planet is being compared to the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. And as an acknowledgment of its contribution to the advancement of aerospace and to honor that feat, a piece of fabric from that plane has been tucked inside Ingenuity.

Ingenuity is a 4-pound (1.8 Kg) machine, and its mission is an engineering one—to demonstrate rotorcraft flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars. Ingenuity is designed to be light, with rotor blades that spin much faster to take advantage of the lighter gravity there, enabling more mass to be lifted at a given spin rate.

Ingenuity will attempt up to five test flights within a 30-Martian-day (31-Earth-day) demonstration window.

The first flight is to be a modest up-and-down trip, rising up to an altitude of just 10 feet. There, it will hover for up to 30 seconds and then descend. Its onboard camera will record images and the Perseverance’s cameras will also record the flight. The other four flights will last longer and reach a higher altitude.

Perseverance is scheduled to then head towards the river delta to look for hints of ancient life in the sentiments there.

Ingenuity is a smart robot and will make some of its own decisions based on parameters set by its engineers on Earth. It has a programmable thermostat that will keep it warm on Mars. It will analyze sensor data and images of the terrain to maintain its set flight path. It can autonomously self-charge with its solar panel.

It can communicate data through the Mars Helicopter Base Station on the rover.

If the flight is successful, then other advanced robotic flying vehicles will be launched as part of future robotic and human missions to Mars. These future missions could provide high-definition images and reconnaissance for robots or humans; and access to terrain that is difficult for rovers to reach. A future helicopter could even help carry light but vital payloads from one site to another.

Anna Versai

Associate Editor (Features and Rewrite) at Technowize. Anna Versai gives a quick and entertaining look at Technology’s most fascinating news. She also writes for The HR Digest and Industry Leaders Magazine. |Follow her on Twitter @VersaiAnna

Recent Posts

IBM announces AI and Hybrid cloud tech for faster digitization

IBM has launched three new AI products across its enterprise platforms that help in cloud…

13 hours ago

Cyber attack shuts down US pipeline company, affects fuel supply

A ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline Company, the biggest refined products pipeline in the…

1 day ago

IBM unveils 2 nanometers chip, opening the door for higher, efficient tech performance

IBM announced a breakthrough in semiconductor design by developing the world's first 2 nanometers (nm)chip.…

2 days ago

California car regulatory authority reveals Tesla’s FSD not ready for autonomous driving

A California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) memo says that Tesla Inc has told the…

5 days ago

Tinder launches Vibes quiz to increase chances of finding common interests

Tinder, the dating app, has launched a new feature called Vibes that gathers information about…

5 days ago

Dell releases firmware patch to fix security bugs in hundreds of computers dating back to 2009

A recent security patch released by Dell fixes a vulnerability affecting many Dell computers manufactured…

7 days ago