The Perseverance helicopter uses a slower processor than your mobile

When we talk about space missions, many times we imagine that they have technologies superior to those that surround us on a daily basis, however, this is not always the case. The NASA helicopter that on February 14 he landed on Mars with the Perseverance rover, although it is hard to believe, features a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor released seven years ago.

It is Ingenuity, an aircraft that, after a journey of about 480 million km, will try to fly in the atmosphere of the red planet. The NASA helicopter must complete a total of five fully autonomous flights as of April 8. The most curious of all, technologically speaking, is that inside it lives a Snapdragon 801 processor launched in 2014 and present in many smartphones of those years.

You may wonder how it is possible that the device in charge of demonstrating that you can fly on Mars – without any human intervention – has this very “old” component. The answer lies in the beginning of the mission and in the platform on which it rests. Perseverance was announced by NASA in December 2012 And, like any adventure of this type, it requires years of work and development to become a reality.

In addition to “looking for signs of ancient microbial life, characterizing the planet’s geology and climate, collecting carefully selected rock and sediment samples,” with the Perseverance rover, NASA included the Ingenuity helicopter in 2015 to perform “a proof of concept” of that you can fly on the red planet. For it, based the aircraft on the Snapdragon Flight platform, which features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor 2.26 GHz.

The Perseverance helicopter is fully autonomous

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, the chip on board the Perseverance helicopter.

Although NASA helicopter has this processor dating from 2014, this It is much more powerful than the PowerPC 750 variant like the 1998 iMac G3 that dwells at the heart of the Perseverance rover. The jump in power has to do, among other things, with the Ingenuity it is totally autonomous. That is, it must measure the conditions of the red planet in real time to stay charged, protect itself from temperature and check the status of its propellers and engines..

The first of the flights will be on April 8 and, according to NASA, it will rise to 16 feet in height (about 4.87 meters) and will last only 90 seconds. Although they will be brief, it will be a feat “from another planet”, since it will become the first aircraft to fly off the Earth plant. During your short ride, you’ll also capture 4K video thanks to its 13-megapixel camera and stay connected to the Perseverance rover via a 250kbps wireless connection.

The Snapdragon 801 processor was very popular with the flagships of that time. The owners of a OnePlus One, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and HTC One M8 had in their pockets – or still have – the same processor power of the NASA helicopter designed to fly on Mars. Curious, huh?