Science & Technology

Is NASA planning the first off-world flight with Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in early April?

On Tuesday, the Space agency mentioned that NASA will soon be planning for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in early April. They will make the first attempt at powered and controlled flight on another planet.

Currently, the ultra-light aircraft remained fixed to the belly of the Perseverance rover that touched down on the Red Planet on 18th February. Well, on Sunday, Perseverance released the debris shield which safeguarded Ingenuity at the time of is making its way to the “airfield” in which Ingenuity will strive for its flights.

Notably, it will have around 30 Martian sols which are equivalent to 31 Earth Days for carrying out the mission.

Bob Balaram, the Mars Helicopter chief engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory mentioned “The best guess we have right now is April 8,” which maybe sooner or later by almost by few days.

He added that for the first time Ingenuity will be carrying a small piece of cloth that will cover one of the wings of the Wright brothers’ first aircraft which will achieve the first powered flight on the Earth at Kitty Hawk in 1903 for paying tribute to the milestone.

Undoubtedly, it will try to fly in the atmosphere which is one percent the density of the Earth’s that might be achieving lift harder. Soon it will be assisted by gravity which is one-third of the planet’s.

It will be the first flight that will include climbing at a rate of around three feet per second to a height of 10 feet by hovering there for almost 30 seconds by descending back to the surface.

Ingenuity will take the higher resolution photography from it flies.

On the other hand, Ingenuity needs to place at its launching site and set it upright. This process will take a few more days.

As soon as the Perseverance will drop off the helicopter which is required to drive away which is about five meters with 25 hours so that it never casts a shadow on Ingenuity.  It is the amount of time that Ingenuity’s battery needs to run a heater without recharge through solar panels.

This part is critical for surviving the night temperature that plunges which is as low as –

Degrees Fahrenheit. If left unheated, the helicopter’s unshielded electrical components will freeze and crack. It will be killing the mission before it even starts.

If things will go plan-wise, Perseverance will take up a position that is at a distance to record Ingenuity’s exploits with its cameras.

This four-pound rotorcraft cost NASA almost $85 million for development and is considered as a proof of concept that will be revolutionizing space exploration.

Further aircraft can cover ground more quickly than rovers and explored more rugged terrains.

The upcoming pan is Dragonfly, a rotorcraft-lander that will be launching in 2026 and soon will arrive at Saturn’s icy moon Titan in 2034.

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