Space exploration The minicopter strikes its wings on Mars – Nasa talks about Ingenuity’s success today

If a virgin flight with a foreign celestial body succeeds, it will remain in aviation history. Information on the success of the flight is promised in the afternoon.

Small a spin for a helicopter, but a big milestone for aviation.

This could characterize Ingenuity’s first flight on Mars as a minicopter. It should take place today, Monday after noon Finnish time. Fresh pictures may come Monday after the flight. The U.S. Space Administration will announce the flight, among other things On Youtube.

The helicopter cannot be remotely controlled due to the wild distance. Mars is now more than 260 million kilometers from Earth.

Virgin flight delayed for more than a week. On the second Friday, the helicopter’s rotors did not rotate completely according to the instructions given. So the flight attempt was delayed by more than a week.

The reason was that the computer controlling the flight did not move from pre-flight mode to flight mode during the exercise. During the week, Ingenuity received repairs to its program from California Air Traffic Control, and everything is now ready.

Minicopter arrived on Mars on February 18 aboard the Nevera ATV Perseverance. The ATV landed in the crater of Jezero according to a precise plan.

A small aircraft, Ingenuity, was waiting for its turn. A helicopter the size of a coffee packet traveled folded. It was packed in a carbon fiber “guitar case”.

The helicopter was tuned in for more than two months. First, Perseverance’s various cameras examine the surrounding terrain. They are looking for an open place to fly a helicopter. It was found fairly quickly and close by, only about 20 feet from the ATV to the northeast.

The minicopter needed a flat departure area of ​​about 10 times for the first flight. Around it was to open an “airport”, a relatively flat terrain that would extend for about 90 meters.

The minicopter Ingenuity is still in the shade under the ATV on March 30, 2021.­

The helicopter’s protective case was removed from the platform already en route to the field on March 18.

At the starting point, Perseverance’s robotic hand turned Ingenuity on its feet horizontally. It took six Mars working days. Nothing was left in a hurry.

Eventually, Ingenuity hung beneath the ATV, just about ten cents above the Martian soil. It still had a umbilical cord on the parent ATV. Soon the last contact bolts were removed by air traffic control. Ingenuity was now on its own foreign ground.

For the helicopter it was important to get power right away. Therefore, the big ATV Perseverance was quickly moved to about five feet away, where it would not overshadow Ingenuity.

The air traffic control ensured that the connection to the ATV was working and that Ingenuity’s batteries were powered by the solar panel. The helicopter’s equipment was to immediately withstand the cold nights of Mars.

Frost can drop to -90 degrees at night on Mars. For that, there were also heaters in the equipment box under the helicopters. They have been operating during the nights.

Half less energy comes from the Sun than on Earth. Ingenuity turned four wings like a waking dragonfly.

The solar panel provides power to the helicopter batteries. They must be recharged after each short flight.­

Take off is believed to justify the experiments that engineers performed on Earth for Ingenuity in the test chambers. They mimicked the conditions on Mars. On Mars, the density of the gas layer is only about one percent of that of Earth.

The flight on Mars is somewhat facilitated by the fact that the gravity of Mars is only 38 percent of the gravity of the Earth. In addition, Ingenuity was made very light. On Mars, it weighed less than 0.7 pounds.

The 1.2-meter-long wings guarantee buoyancy. The two rotors rotated the four wings obliquely, in pairs in different directions.

It is difficult for an aircraft to lift its wings in such a thin atmosphere. Pilots also know this on Earth. A helicopter cannot easily fly much above 6,000 meters. Or the helicopter’s wings have to rotate really fast.

At its best, pairs of wings rotate 2,537 rpm, Nasa says. By comparison, on Earth, the large rotors of helicopters, that is, in front of a helicopter, usually rotate at 450 to 500 revolutions per minute.

Scientific it doesn’t matter on this flight, nor does it matter. They are more an indication that with the right technology, an aircraft can fly in the thin airspace of a foreign planet.

The flight will not be left together now that it has gained momentum. Ingenuity will fly at least four more times in the coming weeks. Nasa has set aside 31 days for Mars, or about a month in Earth days.

The next two times, the helicopter will rise slightly higher. Its wings take the airfield farther. The last two flights are still open. They are considered when helicopter batteries are being charged for flights.

When the Fifth Flight ends in a month, the helicopter’s flight gauge has already accumulated hundreds of meters on Mars. Ingenuity has provided good aerial views.

Perhaps on his last two flights, the minicopter will inspect places that cannot be accurately seen from the orbit around Mars by satellites. Or maybe it’s looking high up on good itineraries for ATV Perseverance.

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