Engineers from NASA’s Perseverance rover mission to Mars have reported that the Ingenuity helicopter has passed without problems his first freezing night on the Red Planet alone.
With temperatures reaching minus 90 ºC, cold Martian nights mean a real challenge for helicopter electronicsUnprotected electrical components can freeze and crack and damage onboard batteries needed for flight, NASA reports.
This Sunday April 4, the Ingenuity helicopter was finally landed on the surface of Mars, after completing the deployment maneuver and lowering to the surface from the underside of the Perseverance rover. Once deposited on the surface of Mars, the Perseverance rover has drifted away from the helicopter.
Thus, on Sunday the last 10 centimeters of descent from the rover’s belly to the surface of Mars were completed. Before letting go completely, Ingenuity took the opportunity to charge its batteries to 100 percent thanks to its connection with the Perseverance rover, but from now on, it will have to do so through its solar panels autonomously.
Now, Ingenuity will have to fend for himself and try to survive the cold Martian nights on his own. The Ingenuity team will check the temperatures and the performance of the battery recharge over the next several days. If everything looks good, then the next steps will come: unlocking the rotor blades and testing all motors and sensors, to prepare to start with the flight tests, now scheduled for no earlier than April 11.