No motorized vehicle has ever controlled flight in the atmosphere of a planet other than Earth. Simply, the small helicopters that remain under the belly of the Perseverance Rover will first attempt adventure in a very thin layer of Martian air. NASA has scheduled the first flight for April 8, 2021, but many other stages will have to be successfully completed before this effort.
A risky deployment
Less than two months after arriving on Martian soil, perseverance is in great shape! He began analyzing his surroundings. Between the first tasks he completed, he identified a test area suitable for Ingenuity’s first flight: 10 meters by 10 meters land, practically flat and without apparent obstruction. The rover must position itself there and once it is in place, a complex deployment process will begin that will run on 6 bases, ie 6 Martian days or 6 days and 4 hours on Earth. The helicopter is actually currently attached to the fixture, but is no longer protected by its shield, which was pushed out of the flight zone on 21 March. On March 24, during a video conference organized by the space agency, the maneuvers for the commissioning of Ingenuity were announced:
– Ground 1: Breakdown of the locking mechanism that keeps the helicopter in the rover.
Ground 2: Cut the cable of the pyrotechnic device, allowing a mechanized arm that holds the ingenuity to begin pushing the helicopter out of its horizontal position. 2 expansion of 4 feet of helicopter.
– Sol 3: A motor will complete a congenital infection in a vertical position.
– Ground 4: Deployment of the last two legs. Congenital hangs about 13 cm from the surface of Mars.
– Sol 5: Charging six batteries.
– Ground 6: Congenital expulsion, firmness goes away from 5 meters and two machines communicate by radio.
Ingenuity released on Mars. Sincerely: NASA / JPL-Caltech.
30 second first flight
After the helicopter takes off, a window of 30 souls will start, during which the engineers in charge of the project will attempt to fly it several times. For the first test, the ambitions are modest: a maximum height of 3 meters will be climbed for a 30-second flight. But the Wright brothers did no better on their first controlled flight to Earth in 1903: their plane, the flyer, was only 12 seconds in the air. A sign and tribute to these ancestors: a small piece of cloth covering its wings is tapped on the Ingenuity! The crew of the Apollo 11, which landed on the moon in July 1969, also carried a piece of this legendary aircraft, wood.
Simplicity does not carry any scientific equipment, it will simply transmit engineering data and images that will complement the observations made by persuasion. This is only for NASA to test the possibility of building a machine on Mars. And this is no small task! In fact on the red planet, the atmospheric density represents the sea level of about 1% of the density of the Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, it is as if Ingenuity was evolving at more than 30,000 meters altitude on Earth. The huge aero and lift issues had to be addressed to fly in such low air. Thus, its blades are mounted on two independent rotors, which turn in opposite directions at approximately 2,400 revolutions / min, much faster than land helicopters. If the first test is planned, the team can schedule up to four more flights. Once this phase is completed, Perseverance will resume its exploration of Mars.