NASA Reveals Bold Plan for Mars Helicopter’s Subsequent Flight


Final week’s maiden Mars flight by NASA’s diminutive Ingenuity helicopter represented a exceptional feat of engineering because it turned the primary plane to attain powered, managed flight on one other planet.

Since then, the drone-like flying machine has taken two extra flights of accelerating complexity, with the following one deliberate for Thursday, April 29.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is working the Mars mission, has revealed that Ingenuity’s fourth airborne journey will see the workforce “push [the aircraft’s] efficiency envelope” by flying it additional and sooner than ever earlier than.

It means we will anticipate to see the 4-pound, 19-inch-high plane climb to an altitude of 5 meters earlier than setting a brand new flight-time file of 117 seconds, 37 seconds longer than its earlier effort. The autonomous rotorcraft may even be instructed to extend its airspeed from 2 meters per second to three.5 (4.5 mph to eight), and to fly 133 meters throughout the Martian floor — 83 meters additional than its final flight.

Throughout a part of its journey, Ingenuity will use its downward-facing navigation digicam to seize pictures of the Martian floor each 1.2 meters. Lastly, the helicopter will hover briefly to take pictures with its shade digicam earlier than heading again to its place to begin. Capturing detailed imagery of the floor is prone to be one of many important actions of a future, extra superior helicopter, so the workforce will likely be eager to see how Ingenuity fares throughout Thursday’s take a look at.

“From thousands and thousands of miles away, Ingenuity checked all of the technical bins we had at NASA about the opportunity of powered, managed flight on the purple planet,” stated Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Future Mars exploration missions can now confidently take into account the added functionality an aerial exploration might carry to a science mission.”

Attaining elevate on Mars is especially difficult due to the planet’s extraordinarily skinny environment, which is round 1% the density at Earth’s floor. For Ingenuity to get airborne, the plane needed to spin its 4 carbon-fiber blades — organized into two rotors — at 2,500 revolutions per minute (rpm), a very good deal sooner than the roughly 500 rpm utilized by a helicopter on Earth.

The fourth Ingenuity flight is about to get underway on Thursday, April 29, at 10:12 a.m. ET (7:12 a.m. PT), with the primary knowledge anticipated to succeed in JPL’s California base at 1:21 p.m. ET (10:21 a.m. PT).

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