The Ingenuity Helicopter safely landed on Mars’ soil. It was mounted within the Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on February 18. Ingenuity, when attached to Perseverance, uses the rover’s nuclear-powered mechanism to charge itself and remain warm.
After separation, Ingenuity will use its solar panel device installed on top of it to produce solar energy to keep itself warm. The big challenge now is to keep Ingenuity alive during the cold nights on Mars, where temperatures will drop to -130 degrees Fahrenheit.
While Ingenuity is equipped with its heater, It is to be seen if it is up to the challenge says NASA’s chief engineer for the Mars project.
It will take off for the first time on April 11th. The results of that test will be available to the public on April 12.
The $85 million helicopters is the first to be sent to another planet and will be used to test technology for potential flying vehicles on other worlds.
It carries two cameras, both to be used by the Perseverance rover, to record their flights.
Now, what’s Next?
NASA’s team will track temperatures and battery recharge efficiency over the next few days.
If all goes according to plan, further checks would be performed, including unlocking the rotor blades and checking all of the motors and sensors. It will hover for about 20-30 seconds just above the surface before coming to a stop on its maiden flight.
If everything went as per plan, the team will pass on four more tests within a month, each of which will progressively push the limits of distance and altitude. The jet propulsion laboratory’s flight controllers won’t be able to control Ingenuity when it’s in the air.
Owing to substantial gaps in messaging, instructions will be forwarded in advance and the team won’t know how the flight has been until its completion. It can decide for itself how to fly and keep warm.
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