Listen to the Incredible Sound of NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Flying on Mars

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Gizmodo 07 May, 2021 - 12:57pm 29 views

“This is a very good surprise,” David Mimoun, science lead for the SuperCam Mars microphone, said in a NASA release.

Indeed, tests on Earth suggested the rover’s microphone would “barely pick up the sounds of the helicopter,” he said, given the achingly thin atmosphere on Mars, which is around 1% that of Earth. Mimoun, a professor of planetary science at Institut Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in France, said his team was “lucky to register the helicopter at such a distance,” and that the “recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere.”

According to NASA, the “scientists made the audio, which is recorded in mono, easier to hear by isolating the 84 hertz helicopter blade sound, reducing the frequencies below 80 hertz and above 90 hertz, and increasing the volume of the remaining signal. Some frequencies were clipped to bring out the helicopter’s hum, which is loudest when the helicopter passes through the field of view of the camera.” Previously, Perseverance used the same instrument to record the sounds of laser pulses zapping rock samples.

More: See the video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars

Read full article at Gizmodo

Why Ingenuity's Fifth Flight Will Be Different

NASA Planetary Science 07 May, 2021 - 03:00pm

Around the time of our first flight, we talked a lot about having our “Wright brothers moment” at Mars. And that makes a lot of sense, since those two mechanically-minded bicycle builders executed the first powered, controlled flight on Earth, and we were fortunate enough to do the same 117 years later – on another planet.

But the comparisons shouldn’t stop with a first flight. Ingenuity’s fifth flight is scheduled for Friday, May 7. As always (at least so far), our targeted takeoff time is 12:33 p.m. local Mars time (3:26 p.m. EDT, or 12:26 p.m. PDT), with data coming down at 7:31 p.m. EDT (4:31 p.m. PDT). Ingenuity will take off at Wright Brothers Field – the same spot where the helicopter took off and touched back down on all the other flights – but it will land elsewhere, which is another first for our rotorcraft. Ingenuity will climb to 16 feet (5 meters), then retrace its course from flight four, heading south 423 feet (129 meters).

But instead of turning around and heading back, we’ll actually climb to a new height record of 33 feet (10 meters), where we can take some color (as well as black-and-white) images of the area. After a total flight time of about 110 seconds, Ingenuity will land, completing its first one-way trip. When it touches down at its new location, we will embark on a new demonstration phase – one where we exhibit what this new technology can do to assist other missions down the road.

So in a sense, over the course of three weeks and four flights, the Ingenuity team has gone from the Wright brothers of 1903 to the Wright brothers of 1908, but in weeks rather than years. We’ve been able to do this because the rover, which carries the helicopter’s communications base station, will remain in the general vicinity for many sols (Martian days) and because on the fourth flight, we actually scouted for a landing zone over 100 meters (328 feet) away. The digital elevation maps put together by the Ingenuity team gave us confidence that our new airfield is flat as a pancake – a good thing when you have to land on it.

Which leads me back to our fifth flight. We are traveling to a new base because this is the direction Perseverance is going, and if we want to continue to demonstrate what can be done from an aerial perspective, we have to go where the rover goes. The Wrights did the same in 1908 – even traveling all the way to LeMans, France, to demonstrate the capabilities of their aircraft.

I think a lot about the Wrights during our flights. I’m sure part of the reason is that I (along with teammate Chris Lefler) had the honor of attaching the small swatch of material from the lower left wing of Flyer I to Ingenuity. But it’s more than that. The Wrights showed what could be accomplished with a combination of teamwork, creativity, and tenacity – and a bit of ingenuity and perseverance.

On flight day, when I look around the room and online at our team, I see a lot of the same sort of vision and tenacity/spirit that made the Wright brothers who they were. Together, we are continuing our Wright brothers moments on Mars.

These blog updates are provided by the Mars Helicopter team. The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars.

Managed by the Mars Exploration Program and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Science Mission Directorate

"Recent" volcanic eruption on Mars boosts subsurface life hypothesis

New Atlas 07 May, 2021 - 03:00pm

Mars still bears the scars of its volcanic past. Its surface is dotted with what may be the remains of gigantic, extinct supervolcanoes, and evidence even suggests one of these erupted non-stop for 2 billion years. Generally though, it’s thought that Martian volcanism mostly occurred between about 3 and 4 billion years ago, and had all but died down in the last few million years – the odd, very faint marsquake notwithstanding.

But now, scientists have discovered a scar that appears to be far more recent. Spotted from orbit in a region called the Elysium Planitia, the feature is a dark deposit that measures 8 miles (12.9 km) wide, and surrounds a large fissure 20 miles (32.2 km) long. The team says it doesn’t look like anything else seen in the area, or anywhere else on Mars.

Judging by its layers relative to its surroundings, as well as the number of small craters within it, the team calculated its age to be around 53,000 years. It doesn’t seem to be the result of common lava flow eruptions, but a more explosive event driven by expanding gases, called a pyroclastic eruption.

"This feature overlies the surrounding lava flows and appears to be a relatively fresh and thin deposit of ash and rock, representing a different style of eruption than previously identified pyroclastic features," says David Horvath, lead author of the study. "This eruption could have spewed ash as high as 6 miles (9.7 km) into Mars' atmosphere. It is possible that these sorts of deposits were more common but have been eroded or buried.”

Interestingly, this potentially youngest volcanic eruption happens to be located just a few miles from a large impact crater that may also be the youngest on Mars. The team says that it’s possible that the two are connected.

"The ages of the eruption and the impact are indistinguishable, which raises the possibility, however speculative, that the impact actually triggered the volcanic eruption," says Pranabendu Moitra, co-author of the study.

"The interaction of ascending magma and the icy substrate of this region could have provided favorable conditions for microbial life fairly recently and raises the possibility of extant life in this region," says Horvath.

The research was published in the journal Icarus.

Source: University of Arizona

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