NASA said that NASA’s Ingenuity mini helicopter has landed on the surface of Mars in preparation for its first flight.
The ultralight aircraft has been fixed to the belly of the Perseverance Rover, which landed on the Red Planet on February 18.
“The #MarsHelicopter touchdown has been confirmed!” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted on Saturday.
“It has a flight time of 293 million miles (471 million kilometers) on @NASAPersevere, and finally dropped 4 inches (10 cm) from the abdomen of the rover to the surface of Mars today. This is the next milestone? Survive overnight.”
A photo in the tweet showed Perseverance dispersing the helicopter and its “airport” after falling to the surface.
Ingenuity has always fed on a persevering power system, but now it is necessary to use its own batteries to run important heaters to protect its unshielded electronic components from freezing and cracking during the painful nights of Martians.
Bob Balaram, head of the Mars helicopter project, said: “Through the severe cold of Martian Night, this heater keeps the internal temperature at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius), where the temperature can drop- 130°F (-90°C).” Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in Friday’s update.
“This can comfortably protect key components such as batteries and some sensitive electronic devices from damage in extremely cold temperatures.”
Balaram said that in the next few days, the Ingenuity team will check whether the helicopter’s solar panels are working properly and charge the batteries before testing its motors and sensors.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced on Twitter that it is expected to conduct its first trial flight before April 11.
Ingenuity will try to fly in an atmosphere with a density of 1% of the earth’s density, which will make lift more difficult-but gravity will help reach one third of the earth’s.
The first flight will involve climbing to an altitude of 10 feet (three meters) at a speed of three feet (one meter) per second, hovering there for 30 seconds, and then descending to the surface.
The originality will take high-resolution photos in flight.
Plan up to five progressive difficulty flights in one month.
The development cost of this 4 lb (1.8 kg) rotorcraft is about 85 million U.S. dollars (about 6.2 billion rupees) for NASA, and is considered to be a proof of concept that can revolutionize space exploration.
Future aircraft may cover the ground faster than rovers and explore more rugged terrain.
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