The prospects for space exploration of Mars are bright.
NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity landed in Jezero crater on Mars with the agency’s Perseverance rover in February.
has already completed 8 Red Planet flights. This is three times the maximum target value of 4 pounds. (1.8 kg) The original technology demonstration mission of the helicopter-Ingenuity has not yet been completed. The activities of the current extended mission of the small
helicopter are primarily aimed at demonstrating the potential of the Martian helicopter as a scout scout. It will continue “for at least a few more months, at a rate of several flights a month,” a scientist from the Perseverance Project. Pasadena Ken Farley, a geochemist at the California Institute of Technology, said at a live web conference from NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) last Monday (June 21).
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The need to balance helicopters and rover missions at the same time requires a complex “dance”, which is coming soon Ingenuity flight will be given to Farley that the members of these two teams are valuable practices. (Ingenuity and perseverance are different tasks, but the helicopter is based on a rover. It is now studying the job of finding life and collecting samples, like a communication relay.)
“Along the way, we hope to get places I can’t go. Recognition image,” Farley said. “And we are also using helicopters to develop terrain grids that will allow rovers to traverse landscapes that they can’t actually see with cameras mounted on the mast.”
To date, Ingenuity has flown at a maximum distance of 873 feet at a single exit. (266 meters; realized on the 4th flight on April 30), the longest stay in the air is 140 seconds (June). If possible, the Ingenuity team hopes to break these two records in the next few months.
“We have driven 266 meters; we want to extend it to one kilometer [0.6 miles],” said Teddy Tzanetos, head of engineering operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California during the MEPAG meeting. June 21.
“This means a total of three minutes of flying,” Tzanetos said. “As far as the aircraft is concerned, this will really break the limits of the capabilities of the technology demonstrator.” The
helicopter team will also prioritize exploration of areas of interest to Perseverance, such as the geological unit of the Jezero formation called Séítah, and extract a large amount of Ingenuity Scientific and engineering data, Tzanetos added.
Data mining work can inform the design of Ingenuity’s successor, and these work have begun to take shape, at least as a concept. For example, Tzanetos said in a MEPAG speech that engineers have begun to design a program for a larger and more powerful helicopter called the Mars Scientific Helicopter. The
Mars Scientific Helicopter is a joint project involving the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, and defense contractor AeroVironment. The envisaged aircraft will be equipped with six rotors and weigh about 66 pounds. (30 kg) and can carry scientific payloads weighing up to 11 pounds. (5 kg) More or less, Tzanetos said. (These are the weights on Earth-the hexacopter will be lighter on Mars, and the gravity of Mars is only 38% stronger than our planet.) The
Mars Scientific Helicopter will be able to fly approximately 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in a single takeoff, Tzanetos said. He said that such a plane can explore “places that roamers cannot access, such as cliff faces or difficult terrain, and even caves.”
Once again, the Mars Scientific Helicopter is now just a concept, not a complete mission. But due to the ongoing work of Ingenuity, the hexacopter may find its way to the red planet sometime in the far future.