NASA Mars helicopter Ingenuity: How to watch first flight on another planet


CNET 19 April, 2021 - 11:57am 27 views

Did ingenuity fly on Mars?

Ingenuity, which rocketed from Earth inside the belly of the space rover Perseverance on July 30, made it to Mars in February and spent just over a week getting ready for the spotlight. Washington PostNASA again postpones historic Ingenuity helicopter flight on Mars

Let's take a moment to marvel at the phrase "the first powered, controlled flight on another planet." NASA hopes to achieve that momentous milestone as soon as Monday, April 19 with the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars.

The small rotorcraft hitched a ride to Mars under the belly of the Perseverance rover, which dropped it off on the surface about a week ago. The two machines posed for a picture together. The rover will act as a witness to Ingenuity's efforts to get off the ground.

The flight attempt had been delayed from its original target date of April 11 to give NASA time to update the machine's software after a spin test of the rotors ended too early. The helicopter has since successfully completed a rapid spin test, an important milestone that put it closer to liftoff.

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The agency will livestream coverage of Ingenuity's first flight on NASA TV. If all goes well, the helicopter will attempt its flight around 12:30 a.m. PT on Monday and NASA will start its livestream at 3:15 a.m. PT. "Data from the first flight will return to Earth a few hours following the autonomous flight," the space agency said in a statement on Saturday.

This won't be like watching a sporting event with live footage, but the NASA team hopes to get results back indicating a successful hover operation. A postflight briefing is then scheduled for 11 a.m. PT.

"The rover will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth," said NASA in a statement.

There's a good-luck talisman along for the ride. Ingenuity has a tiny piece of the Wright Brothers' famous Flyer attached to it, drawing a direct line between the making of aviation history on both Earth and Mars.

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How an old smartphone processor will power the first-ever flight on Mars

The Next Web 18 April, 2021 - 09:10pm

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If you’ve got a new Android phone, its processor is probably more advanced than the one that will control the first-ever flight on Mars.

The system runs an integrated board called the Qualcomm Flight Platform, which will operate the autonomous flight.

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While staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will plan the chopper’s route, the flight will be autonomous due to communication delays. Radio signals will take over 15 minutes to travel the 173 million miles between Earth and Mars.

Qualcomm’s platform will process information captured by two cameras and multiple sensors attached to the four-foot helicopter. This data will feed back into the algorithms that guide Ingenuity’s movements.

“Our entire flight model is based on the sensors onboard as well as the computer vision — what I like to call flight by sight,” says Chris Pruetting, senior director of business development for Qualcomm Government Technologies.

On the buggy, the platform will process photos taken by the helicopter before they’re sent back to Earth.

Those of us here are really excited about the pictures that Ingenuity takes,” says Pruetting. “The folks at JPL are really excited about all the data that comes back as part of that because they’re going to learn a lot about spaceflight on Mars.”

NASA will use the insights to develop more advanced helicopters, which could access areas of Mars that ground vehicles can’t reach.

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NASA is ready to once again make history as its Mars helicopter prepares to make the first-ever attempt at a powered flight on another planet. 

The four-pound rotorcraft that stowed away on the Mars Perseverance Rover when it touched down on the red planet was originally scheduled to take off on April 11. 

However, NASA says based on data it received Friday from the helicopter, Ingenuity won't take flight any earlier than April 14.

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