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SciTechDaily 21 April, 2021 - 04:00am 22 views

When is Mars helicopter first flight?

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this shot as it hovered over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. NASANASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight

Did the Mars helicopter fly?

ET on April 19—in the midafternoon local time on Mars—the helicopter successfully completed its first flight. ... NASA's Perseverance rover took a selfie on Mars with the Ingenuity helicopter on April 6. Perseverance then drove off to an overlook about 200 feet away to watch Ingenuity's flight attempt. National GeographicNASA Mars helicopter makes history as first vehicle to fly on another planet

Did ingenuity fly on Mars?

Ingenuity, NASA's first helicopter flight on another planet, flies autonomously and has special features to help it stay aloft in the thin Martian atmosphere. Transmits flight data to the Perseverance rover, which relays it via satellite to Earth. The Wall Street JournalNASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Makes Historic First Flight

When does the Mars helicopter take off?

On Monday (April 19), the ultra-lightweight robot will try taking off into the Martian sky and if it succeeds, this maneuver will be the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. Ingenuity is scheduled to take off at 3:30 a.m. EDT (0730 GMT) on Monday, but its flight controllers are wary. Space.comNASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity is ready to make its first flight attempt Monday

Over the next 31 days, Ginny the chopper will make a handful of test flights in the thin Mars air under the watchful gaze of Percy, which will relay images and data back to NASA.

The flight is one of several astonishing successes so far, in a Martian-year-long mission dedicated to a centuries-old mystery: Did ancient microbial life flourish somewhere besides Earth?

Perseverance touched down on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 in the Jezero Crater. Some 3.5 billion years ago, the depression was formed by a meteorite and became a lake fed by a river, scientists believe. Their clue? The presence of clay minerals that form only in the presence of water. In this delta, Perseverance may find signs of ancient life. It will try to collect them and use onboard instruments to analyze their chemical composition. And Percy will preserve rock and soil samples until a future mission comes to pick them up, like the Smithsonian...on Mars.

Mars is farther from the sun than Earth and it takes much longer to orbit, so a Mars year is equivalent to 687 Earth days. That’s the same length of time as Percy’s mission. A Mars day, called a sol, is also longer — 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds. For these missions, NASA follows Mars time and Percy’s workday on the planet (which really screws up the sleep schedule of the agency’s scientists). The day the rover landed and began its mission is Sol 0.

Earthlings have long stared up at the fiery Red Planet. Babylonians named it Nergal. Galileo first viewed it through a telescope in 1609. In recognition of this wonder, microchips etched with the names of 10.9 million humans adorn one of the rover’s crossbeams. (NASA did a callout!) As Perseverance traverses the planet, each step builds to the next. Each test builds knowledge.

In the sections below, readers can follow the historic mission, through video, photographs and audio that Percy has sent back and can see the daunting terrain through Post maps created with NASA data.

Hurtling toward the surface of Mars at about 12,000 mph, Perseverance entered its atmosphere at 3:48 p.m. Feb. 18. Over seven nail-biting minutes, the spacecraft began a carefully choreographed sequence of disassembling itself, slowing down and guiding itself to a landing site on the Jezero Crater, which is only 4.8 miles wide.

After deploying its parachute, the spacecraft shed its heat shield and back shell. Using a terrain-relative navigation system to guide the spacecraft toward the landing site, its eight retrorockets fired up to slow the craft down more. Once it was 65 feet from the landing site, Perseverance was lowered to the surface.

About 18 hours after landing, using a microphone stowed on its deck, Perseverance recorded the first sounds from the surface of Mars — the wind blowing on the planet. It sounds like the ocean in a seashell.

On the third Martian day of the mission, Perseverance made a high-resolution, 360-degree panorama that shows the landing site inside the craggy crater. Made of 142 individual images captured by Mastcam-Z, a zoomable pair of cameras mounted to the rover’s mast, it provides exquisite detail of the planet’s surface. Scientists will use high-resolution images captured by these cameras to help them identify rocks and sediments for closer study.

Perseverance has undergone several checks and tests of its parts and instruments, as part of a 90-sol initial checkout period to prepare the rover and its human team. NASA’s operations team on Earth has shifted its schedule to align with the rover’s grueling work day.

On the 12th Martian day of the mission, Perseverance conducted its first scientific study, on a nearby rock that NASA named Máaz, the Navajo word for Mars. Audio captures the sound of lasers zapping the rock to determine its hardness and the presence of weathering coatings. “Máaz has a basaltic composition. It is either an igneous (in other words, volcanic) rock or consists of fine grains of igneous material that were cemented together in a watery environment,” NASA said in a statement that included analysis of data collected by Percy’s SuperCam.

On Sol 14, Perseverance conducted its first mobility test on the Red Planet — a chance to “kick the tires,” as NASA test bed engineer Anais Zarifian put it in a news release. The drive was short but exciting: It lasted 33 minutes and covered a distance of 21.3 feet at a speed of 0.01 miles per hour. The rover, roughly the size of a car 10 feet long and seven feet tall, has six wheels, four of which turn independently.

Scientists believe the best hope for finding signs of ancient microbial life is on a particular delta, where a river once fed Jezero lake. On Sol 15, NASA revealed two possible routes for Percy to make the 1.5-mile trip. The agency weighs what is the most efficient and safest route against the most scientifically interesting, said project scientist Katie Stack Morgan. The first route is smoother. The second route has remnant deposits that are of particular interest. The route will be announced once the helicopter’s flight tests have concluded.

Percy does housekeeping, too. It swept off the airfield prior to NASA’s Sol 30 announcement of a flight zone for Ginny’s first test. The 33-by-33-foot flat airfield just north of the landing site is considered a safe place for the $80 million Ginny to take off and land without hitting, say, a rock. The 300-foot flight zone offers texture — enough for the chopper to see and photograph.

Ginny was successfully detached from Percy’s underbelly on Sol 43. The rover rumbled away, leaving the helicopter with 25 hours of life in its batteries, which have to be kept warm to survive in a frigid atmosphere that can dip down to minus-130 degrees Fahrenheit. Ingenuity stays charged through its solar array.

A high-speed spin test of Ingenuity’s rotors ended early on Sol 49, when the flight computer’s safeguard kicked in while the chopper was transitioning from “preflight” to “flight” mode.

At 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time on Sol 58 of the mission, Ingenuity rose above the surface in the first powered flight to take place on another planet. The four-pound, 19.3-inch-tall helicopter rose 10 feet from the surface and hovered for about 30 seconds before touching back down. “We together flew on Mars!” MiMi Aung, NASA’s Ingenuity program manager said, applauding the work the team has done over the last six years.

“We’ve been thinking so long about having our Wright Brothers moment," she said, “and here it is. We will take a moment to celebrate our success and then take a cue from Orville and Wilbur regarding what to do next. History shows they got back to work — to learn as much as they could about their new aircraft."

For the next 30 sols, Ingenuity will continue to perform a series of flight tests while Perseverance will serve as a communication relay between the helicopter, Mars orbiters and mission control back on Earth. Following the flight tests, Perseverance will then begin surface operations moving toward the delta to search for signs of ancient microbial life.

An earlier version of this report incorrectly said that Mars is Earth's closest planetary neighbor. The article has been corrected.

Mapping by Laris Karklis. 3-D animation by Aaron Steckelberg. Editing by Matthew Callahan, Ann Gerhart and Monica Ulmanu. Copy editing by Brian Cleveland.

All photos, videos, 3-D models and mapping data are from NASA. Additional image credits include Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which built and manages operations for the rover; Caltech; Malin Space Science Systems; Los Alamos National Lab; France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES); the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS); and Arizona State University.

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