NASA mission control tracks ingenuity flight to Mars

The Ingenuity helicopter standing on the surface of Mars, photographed by the Perseverance rover.

The Ingenuity helicopter standing on the surface of Mars, photographed by the Perseverance rover.
Picture: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

Update: NASA said his first attempt at theft will not take place no countmore than Wednesday April 14. The original article appears below.

From NASA Ingenuity helicopter will try to take flightt on the Red Planet early Monday morning, and you can watch it live as the NASA team follows this historic test from mission control.

If all four legs of this small 1.8 kg (4 pound) helicopter leave the Martian surface, it will be the first time that NASA – or any other space agency – has successfully achieved controlled motorized flight on an alien planet. . Success would introduce an entirely new dimension to the exploration of the Red Planet.

You can watch the live stream below starting at 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. PDT) on Monday, April 12. NASA has yet to say when images or even video of the attempted flight will be available, but we’re hoping for later on Monday.

Alternatively, you can follow the NASA app, Youtube, and Facebook. For those who live in the Western Hemisphere, this is certainly not the best time to wake up, but NASA will host a press briefing to discuss the preliminary results of the flight at 11:00 a.m. EDT (8:00 a.m. PDT) on the same day. .

Importantly, the current schedule is subject to change “as engineers work on deployments, pre-flight checks and positioning of Perseverance and Ingenuity vehicles.” according to at NASA. Planning updates can be monitored on the helicopter’s Watch Online site Web page.

The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will also assess the wind speed at the Octavia Butler landing site and the amount of power available to Ingenuity for its flight, as MiMi Aung, head of the Ingenuity project, said. Friday to reporters. Ingenuity chamber test engineer Amelia Quon said the helicopter had been tested over a wide range of possible wind conditions, but there was no perfect way to simulate the conditions on Mars.

Ingenuity, all through its loneliness, standing in its

Ingenuity, all through its loneliness, standing in its “aerodrome”.
Picture: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

During tests on Earth, a prototype was exposed to winds blowing between 33 and 36 feet per second (10 to 11 meters per second), which should be stronger than what is expected inside Jezero crater , as Quon explained at Friday’s press conference.

The Perseverance rover, after uplink with the helicopter, will relay the results of the flight test to an orbiter, which in turn will relay the data to mission controllers on Earth. During the press conference, Tim Canham, head of Ingenuity operations at JPL, said we should expect 40 seconds of data, as that is the expected duration of the inaugural test flight.

An image demonstrating the high resolution capability of Ingenuity's camera.

An image demonstrating the high resolution capability of Ingenuity’s camera.
Picture: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

Ingenuity is equipped with a downward-facing camera that will take photos during the flight, Canham said. The team expects to receive grainy black-and-white images initially, followed by high-resolution images in the coming days. Taking images 30 times per second, Ingenuity’s camera, in addition to telling the story of the flight, will also serve as a sort of altimeter and help mission planners locate the helicopter’s landing point, a. -he adds.

The Perseverance rover will attempt to capture footage from Ingenuity’s test flight, which it will do with its Mastcam-Z camera. Elsa Jensen, head of Mastcam-Z uplink operations, said her team had trained for the test flight, but warned the footage might not be great, given that nothing like it has happened. never been attempted before and that there will inevitably be “surprises.” As she explained on Friday. Interestingly, Canham said Perseverance’s microphones could be used to capture the sounds of Ingenuity in flight in later tests.

Ingenuity was deployed to the surface last weekend and is now standing on its four legs. The helicopter had been stowed under the rover for the trip to Mars, but the machine now survives on its own, successfully recharging its batteries using its solar panels and communicating with its six-wheeled partner, according to Aung. Important milestones were achieved this week as the four-bladed rotor helicopters were deployed and tested at speeds of 50 rpm and 2400 rpm.

Both sets of blades are counter-rotating and they have been carefully adjusted to maximize lift in thin Martian air. Ingenuity’s rotors aren’t something you “would take off the shelf,” Aung said. Each ultra-light blade weighs approximately 35 grams and consists of a foam core covered with carbon fiber. The design is aimed at ensuring rigidity, strength and lightness, she added. During the maiden flight, Ingenuity’s rotors will spin at the breakneck speed of 2,537 rpm. The high rate of rotation is related to the Martian atmosphere, which is only 1% of the Earth.

Aung said this project wouldn’t have been possible 10 or 15 years ago, because only now engineers have the technology to spin the blades at such high speeds, to use the micro controls. self-contained and lightning-fast rotor blades during flight, and to design a vehicle capable of surviving the harsh conditions on Mars.

Regardless of what happens during the flight, “we learn, whether it’s success or failure,” Aung said. She pointed out the grim possibility of Ingenuity tipping over upon landing. Because the helicopter has no way to straighten itself, such a development would effectively bring the project to an end. The tech demo is about “adding the aerial dimension” to NASA’s toolkit for exploring Mars, Aung said. And as Canham pointed out, the photos from the test will obviously be beautiful, but the main focus of the mission is to get the flight data.

If the flight goes well and Ingenuity lands on all four feet, NASA will continue to test the helicopter over the course of 30 sols, or Martian days.

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