Ingenuity Mars Heliscopter: First Flight on Mars

Ingenuity's shadow while in flight
Ingenuity pictures its shadow, throughout its first temporary powered flight on Mars.
NASA / JPL-Caltech

It might have been a brief flight, however NASA’s Mars Ingenuity Helicopter carried out a historic first early Monday morning, briefly taking to alien skies.

The flight occurred at 3:34 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (7:34 Universal Time), and phrase of the flight reached Earth through the worldwide Deep Space Network at 6:46 a.m. EDT / 10:46 UT.

Mission control for Ingenuity
Mission controllers cheer throughout the arrival of post-flight alerts from Ingenuity.

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” stated performing NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a current press release. “We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky — at least on Mars — may not be the limit.”

The flight lasted simply 39.1 seconds, because the solar-powered helicopter spun up its two four-foot-wide rotor blades, stacked in counter-rotating pairs, to greater than 2,500 rpm. Ingenuity reached a top of three meters (10 toes) in a short hover earlier than safely touchdown again on the Martian floor. The main digicam snapped a number of photos throughout the hop, whereas the Perseverance rover documented the flight with its major Mastcam-Z and Navcam imagers from 64.3 meters (211 toes) away.

Perseverance dropped off Ingenuity on April third, then backed away to the Jakob van Zyl overlook website to offer Ingenuity a transparent airspace to hold out its first operations. The complete flight was autonomous, as Mars is at present 173 million miles (over 15 light-minutes) away.

Perseverance selfie with Ingenuity
Perseverance snaps a selfie together with Ingenuity on April sixth.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Ingenuity was originally scheduled to fly on Wednesday, April 14th, however the helicopter’s “watchdog timer” shut down early throughout a high-speed spin-up take a look at the weekend prior. Engineers re-assessed and uploaded new instructions to the helicopter this previous weekend. A profitable spin-up take a look at previous to as we speak’s flight was accomplished on April seventeenth.

The “airfield” that Ingenuity sortied from was named Wright Brothers Field as we speak, in honor of the primary powered flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. (That historic occasion was additionally temporary, lasting solely 12 seconds.) Ingenuity carries a postage stamp-sized swatch of the unique Wright Brothers flyer to commemorate the event. Wright Brothers Field even acquired the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) airport code “JZRO” for as we speak’s flight, with Ingenuity receiving the flight name signal “IGY-1.”

Ingenuity noticed its personal shadow throughout the temporary flight, as Perseverance captured a collection of photos which have been posted by NASA on the rover’s Twitter feed early on Monday.

“We have been thinking for so long about having our ‘Wright brothers moment’ on Mars, and here it is,” stated challenge supervisor MiMi Aung (NASA-JPL) in a current press release. “We will take a moment to celebrate our success, and then take a cue from Orville and Wilbur regarding what to do next. History shows they got back to work to learn as much as they could about their new aircraft — and so will we.”

Ingenuity was designed by NASA/JPL, and price $85 million from design by way of operation. The mission is a difficult one, because the Martian ambiance is just one% that of Earth’s at sea degree. Standing simply 19.3 inches (49 centimeters) excessive and with a mass of 1.8 kilograms, a lot of the miniaturized tech aboard Ingenuity owes its existence to trendy smartphone expertise. Though Ingenuity carries no science devices, it does have a laser altimeter and two cameras onboard. The major 13-megapixel shade digicam faces the horizon to picture the terrain, and one 0.5-megapixel black and white digicam faces downward for navigation.

Though it represents a proof of idea, powered flight is predicted to grow to be commonplace throughout future missions. A flying mission can scout the terrain forward or attain areas inaccessible through wheels on the bottom. NASA’s subsequent interplanetary rotorcraft, the nuclear-powered Dragonfly mission, is scheduled to go to Saturn’s largest moon Titan round 2027.

The Ingenuity group has two weeks left in its 30-day window for operations, throughout which the helicopter might full as much as 4 extra flights. Watch for the subsequent one to happen not sooner than April twenty second. Flight 2 will see Ingenuity reaching an altitude of 5 meters, then flying laterally for two meters. On Flight 3, Ingenuity will fly to an altitude of 5 meters earlier than trying a 50-meter out and again horizontal flight.

Ingenuity sticks the landing
Ingenuity as seen from Perseverance, shortly after its first flight.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

After that, Perseverance will transfer on with its packed main science mission. After April, Ingenuity will come to relaxation one final time on the floor of Mars in Jezero Crater, a small testomony to the primary flight on the Red Planet.


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