At 471 million kilometers from Earth, for the first time a helicopter will fly over another planet. But first he has to survive the cold Martian night …
Everything is ready for the most spectacular mission to be carried out by the Perseverance rover on Mars. The Ingenuity mini helicopter that he carries in his belly, has descended 10 centimeters to perch on Martian soil.
It already survives autonomously on Mars, and that will be precisely the first test it will have to pass: survive two Martian nights at minus 90 degrees. And to the earthquakes that are being detected these days on the Red Planet, yes, of low intensity: magnitude 3.3 and 3.1.
Although it looks like a drone, the Ingenuity is a mini-helicopter less than one meter in diameter and 1.8 kilograms in weight, which can become the first air vehicle in history to fly over another planet. In this video you can see a recreation of one of the five scheduled flights:
15 days ago NASA confirmed that Ingenuity survived the spectacular Perseverance landing.
In this time it has been recharging the batteries inside Perseverance’s belly, which will allow you to survive the aggressive environment of Mars on your own.
These batteries won’t just help you fly. They also have another very important mission: power the heater which will allow the batteries and critical circuits to maintain a temperature of 7 degrees during Martian nights, at minus 90 degrees Celsius.
Certain mechanisms like propellers have to be in the open air (that’s a way of speaking), and without the heater they would freeze.
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If everything works fine and the Ingenuity solar panels recharge the batteries correctly, Around April 11 the first flight attempt will take place.
For the first time in history a helicopter will take off on another planet, rise 3 meters and fly for 30 seconds before landing.
It is a dangerous maneuver because the atmosphere of Mars is only 1% the density of Earth, and gravity is one third. AND the entire flight will be carried out autonomously, without human intervention.
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If everything goes fine, Ingenuity will carry out 4 more flights, each time longer and more difficult. It will also take many photographs, which will allow us to enjoy the surface of Mars from a unique perspective.