Good news: the Ingenuity helicopter has arrived unharmed on Mars, tomorrow it will start recharging the batteries
It is one of the mainstays of the Mars 2020 mission, and for now everything is going according to plan: the Ingenuity helicopter has shown signs of life.
The rover Perseverance It successfully landed on Mars last week, garnering worldwide attention (and memes). Your main mission will be find remains of life on Mars, but also wants to mark another milestone: for the first time in history, a helicopter will fly off planet Earth.
Its about Ingenuity, a mini helicopter with a size of just 1 meter wingspan, which has traveled 500 million million kilometers within the cloth del rover Perseverance.
We already knew that the main robot has landed on the Red Planet without problems but, What happened to Ingenuity? There was uncertainty as to whether the small helicopter had been damaged during the dangerous landing:
Fortunately, NASA has just given us good news: at 0:30 this morning they received a radio communication indicating that both the Ingenuity helicopter and its base station are operating as expected.
As you explain Phys.org, the base station is a box with electronics located in the Rover, which controls the communication between the robot itself and the helicopter. It will be vital when the two separate.
The Ingenuity wants to make history, by becoming the first human aircraft to fly over the surface of another planet. If everything goes according to plan, the helicopter will fly over Mars that can be seen in this video:
As explained by NASA engineer Tim Canham, both the Ingenuity battery charger and the heating system that keeps the helicopter instruments operational are working properly: “Both seem to be working very well. With this positive report, we will move forward with tomorrow’s charging of the helicopter batteries“.
Although recharging the batteries will begin tomorrow, the historic Ingenuity flight will not be soon. It is estimated that it will take between 1 or 2 months to fly.
They first want to check that the Perseverance rover is fully operational, and can carry out a full environmental survey, to make sure the helicopter’s flight is going to be safe.
According to the NASA report, the batteries will be charged tomorrow for an hour, until reaching 30% of its total capacity. In a few days they will be charged again to reach 35%, with future charging sessions planned weekly while the helicopter is connected to the rover.
The data downloaded during the charging sessions will be compared with the recharges made on Earth, to study the differences.
When the Ingenuity gets out of the Rover, will depend on your own solar panels. The mission objectives are for the mini helicopter to endure the first night at 90 degrees, take off, and fly around Perseverance at a few meters high.
If you manage to land safely, there are another 4 more and more complex missions scheduled. The Ingenuity It is controlled by software that works 100% with Linux and open source.
A historic mission that we hope will succeed: we are all looking forward to seeing this small aircraft fly over the surface of Mars …