NASA Video Exhibits Mars Helicopter’s Historic First Flight

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NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, made historical past this week when it grew to become 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 (prime) displaying your entire flight. It was captured by a digital camera on the Perseverance rover, which arrived on the crimson planet in February with Ingenuity connected to its stomach.

As knowledge must be despatched to and returned from Mars over a whole bunch of thousands and thousands of miles utilizing orbiting satellites and NASA’s Deep Area 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 operating varied algorithms.

One of many many challenges for engineers was to create an plane that would get airborne and maintain steady 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 sooner than the roughly 500 rpm utilized by helicopters on Earth.

“What’s essential to remember is that there is no such thing as a handbook for constructing Mars helicopters. We’ve by no means achieved this earlier than — humanity has by no means put a helicopter on the crimson planet,” Teddy Tzanetos, deputy operations lead for Ingenuity, informed BBC Information after the profitable flight. “Area is troublesome; area is difficult. There have been loads of giant milestones for the challenge, however these all have been constructing as much as right this moment.”

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 large quantities of helpful knowledge, including, “That [data] is admittedly the treasure trove of knowledge for the flight challenge as a result of that’s what’s going for use to assist construct and design and encourage future plane missions to the crimson planet.”

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

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