After proving that it can fly power-controlled on the Red Planet, NASA’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter has a new order: to scouting before the Perseverance Rover to help them look for signs of microbial life in the past.
In the next phase, the mission of the marine engine will be expanded beyond the initial one-month technical demonstration. Now, the goal is to evaluate how pilots can better help future exploration of Mars and other worlds.
Lori Glaze, director of the NASA Planetary Science Division, told reporters on Friday: “We will continue to focus on its scientific missions while gathering information about the helicopter’s combat support capabilities.”
Ingenious reconnaissance methods may one day be useful for human missions. It can find the best path for explorers to traverse and reach locations that are impossible elsewhere.
NASA said on Twitter that the 4-pound (1.8 kg) mini helicopter successfully completed the fourth of its originally planned five flights on Friday, “flying more than ever before. Are faster.
It is planned to add a fifth Mars in the next few days and then extend its mission by one Martian month (initially one month).
Whether it continues will depend on whether it is still in good condition and whether it is helping rather than hindering the rover’s goal of collecting soil and rock samples for future laboratory analysis on Earth.
Chief engineer Bob Balaram predicts that one limiting factor will be its ability to withstand the cold Martian night, where the temperature plummets to -130 degrees Fahrenheit (-90 degrees Celsius).
He said that the originality can use solar heaters to keep warm, but this kind of heater can only be used for one month, and the engineer is not sure “how many freeze-thaw cycles can be experienced before it breaks.”
NASA initially thought Perseverance would leave the location where it landed on the Jezero Crater north of the Earth’s equator on February 18.
That would mean that the rovers left Ingenuity behind, beyond the range of communication.
Now, despite this, the agency hopes to retain perseverance in the area for a period of time after discovering a rock outcrop, which they believe contains some of the oldest materials on the crater floor.
They hope to collect their first sample in July.
Since its first flight on April 19, Ingenuity’s achievements have attracted the imagination of the public, but NASA said that this was not a deciding factor in the decision to allow these two robots to continue exploring Mars.
Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley said: “We really want to spend a lot of time with us, so this is an accidental alliance.”