NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity efficiently accomplished its historic first flight

2021-04-19 22:59:10

The primary powered, managed flight on one other planet came about at 3:34 a.m. ET.

In contrast to when the helicopter’s fellow traveler, the Perseverance rover, landed on Mars on February 18, there was a little bit of wait to understand how the helicopter fared in its try.

The helicopter crew was in mission management at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, early Monday morning to obtain and analyze the primary knowledge from Ingenuity’s flight try.

The flight was initially scheduled for April 11, however plans shifted after a command-sequence problem was found when the helicopter went by means of a system of preflight checks with its software program. The helicopter crew obtained knowledge on April 16 exhibiting that the helicopter efficiently accomplished its fast spin check after using a command sequence tweak.

The chopper autonomously flew by means of the skinny Martian environment, with no assist from its groups on Earth.

“We will now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on one other planet,” mentioned MiMi Aung, Ingenuity mission supervisor at JPL. “We have been speaking about our Wright Brothers second on one other planet for thus lengthy. And now, right here it’s.”

Pictures, along with the information, additionally helped the crew affirm that the flight was profitable.

A lower-resolution black-and-white picture from the helicopter’s navigation digital camera appeared first.

The helicopter's navigation camera captured a view of the Ingenuity's shadow on the Martian surface during its first flight.

The Perseverance rover has already returned a number of pictures it captured of the helicopter.

A view from the Perseverance rover shows Ingenuity with its blades in motion.

The rover will proceed to ship again extra pictures and video from a number of of its cameras. A put up shared on the NASA Perseverance rover Twitter account supplies a pleasant preview of what is to return.

“Ingenuity is the newest in a protracted and storied custom of NASA tasks reaching an area exploration purpose as soon as thought unattainable,” mentioned appearing NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk in a press release. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the area shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the identical for 3 generations of Mars rovers. We do not know precisely the place Ingenuity will lead us, however at this time’s outcomes point out the sky — no less than on Mars — will not be the restrict.”

First flight

Ingenuity, which is a expertise demonstration, flew for about 40 seconds whole on Monday. The 4-pound helicopter spun up its two 4-foot blades, rose up 10 ft (3 meters) within the air, hovered, took a photograph, and touched again down on Mars.

Ingenuity may fly as much as 4 extra occasions over the approaching weeks.

Mars Perseverance rover snaps selfie photo with Ingenuity helicopter

“Mars is difficult not solely while you land, however while you attempt to take off from it and fly round, too,” Aung mentioned. “It has considerably much less gravity, however lower than 1% the strain of our environment at its floor. Put these issues collectively, and you’ve got a automobile that calls for each enter be proper.”

The Perseverance rover helps the helicopter and its mission crew on Earth talk with one another. It obtained the flight directions from JPL and despatched these plans on to the helicopter. Perseverance is parked at an overlook 215 ft (65 meters) away from the helicopter so it may safely watch the flight and seize pictures and movies.

In the course of the helicopter’s hover, it captured pictures 30 occasions per second to feed into the navigation pc. This made positive Ingenuity remained degree and in the midst of its 33-by-33-feet (10-by-10-meter) air area.

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter survives first freezing night on Mars

Ingenuity used a second higher-resolution digital camera pointing towards the horizon to seize pictures whereas the helicopter was aloft.

As soon as the helicopter landed on Mars, it despatched again knowledge by means of the rover to Earth.

That first black-and-white picture from the helicopter’s navigation digital camera is essential as a result of “that may assist us localize the place the helicopter landed,” mentioned Tim Canham, Ingenuity operations lead at JPL.

“The first function of this mission is to get that detailed engineering knowledge that we are able to see the efficiency of the automobile, after which that knowledge can be utilized by future tasks to make even larger and higher helicopters,” Canham mentioned.

The rover captured this view of the helicopter from Mastcam-Z, a pair of zoomable cameras.

The airfield now bears a brand new identify becoming for this historic occasion.

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the primary flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this superb feat on one other world,” mentioned Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a press release.

“Whereas these two iconic moments in aviation historical past could also be separated by time and 173 million miles of area, they now will ceaselessly be linked. As an homage to the 2 revolutionary bicycle makers from Dayton, this primary of many airports on different worlds will now be referred to as Wright Brothers Discipline, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that proceed to propel exploration.”

Future flights

“The Mars Helicopter mission has gone from ‘blue sky’ feasibility examine to workable engineering idea to reaching the primary flight on one other world in somewhat over six years,” mentioned Michael Watkins, director of JPL, in a press release.

Ingenuity Mars helicopter: The historic journey to fly on another planet

After the primary flight, Ingenuity will get a “relaxation day” to cost up utilizing its photo voltaic panel. The crew will use knowledge despatched again by the helicopter this week to plan its subsequent flight, now scheduled for no sooner than April 22.

“We now have been pondering for thus lengthy about having our Wright brothers second on Mars, and right here it’s,” Aung mentioned. “We are going to take a second to have fun our success after which take a cue from Orville and Wilbur concerning what to do subsequent. Historical past reveals they bought again to work — to be taught as a lot as they might about their new plane — and so will we.”

The cadence between flights will get progressively shorter. Ingenuity may fly 4 days after the primary flight, then three days after the second flight and so forth. The latter flights may see the helicopter rising as excessive as 16 ft (5 meters) and performing lateral actions as much as 50 ft (15 meters) out and again.

“As soon as we get to the fourth and fifth flights, we’ll have enjoyable,” Aung mentioned. “We actually need to push the bounds. It is not on daily basis that you simply get to check a rotorcraft on Mars. So we need to be very adventurous.”

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