Ingenuity is the first intelligent robot that will fly over the Martian atmosphere, despite the complications and challenges that travel represents.
For the first time in history, a helicopter will be sent into outer space to attempt a controlled flight on Mars. Called ‘Ingenuity‘, it is one more component of Mars 2020, the NASA space mission on February 18, will land on the red planet.
The helicopter that will fly over the Martian atmosphere it is the first flying artifact it will attempt to perform a controlled and powered journey on another planet. If successful, the data could provide important information for later missions in the near future. This is what we know.
An experimental flight
First of all, you have to understand that Ingenuity is an experimental flight. It gets its name from the naive stimulus that has given rise to technological advance: the desire to know, to discover. Unlike the Perseverance rover, the protagonist of the mission, the helicopter does not carry any scientific instrument with him.
Ingenuity’s objective, then, is linked to engineering: to demonstrate that the flight of a helicopter in extremely thin atmosphere from Mars is possible. Regarding the mission, MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), noted the following:
“Our Mars Helicopter team has been doing things that have never been done before, that no one from the start could be sure could be done. We faced many challenges along the way that could have brought us to a halt. We are delighted to be so close to demonstrating, on Mars, what Ingenuity can really do. “
After surviving the intense vibrations of the launch on July 30, 2020, the helicopter is ready to dive into the Martian atmosphere. However, Ingenuity will not attempt its first flight until more than a month after the Perservance landing. First of all, the scientists in charge of the rover and helicopter need time to make sure that both robots be ready.
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An intelligent robot
It is common that in this type of technological endeavor, the communication is complicated as they move away from Earth. Despite its similar size to that of a drone, the scientists in charge of the mission to Mars highlight how smart it is Ingenuity, shown in the interactive graphic above.
This means that the engineers in charge will not be able to maintain complete control of the helicopter. On the contrary, they may have access to images that I recover until long after the flight takes place.
For this reason, the robot will make some decisions on its own, based on the parameters set from Earth, from which it will analyze data from the sensors it has integrated. In addition, Ingenuity has integrated a programmed thermostat that will keep it at a suitable temperature on Mars.
With its unique point of view, the robot promises new exploration possibilities on other planets. It seems that Mars is the first step to learn more about other planets by air (of course, only if the mission is a success).
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