NASA Mars helicopter Ingenuity pulls off first historic flight on another planet

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CNET 19 April, 2021 - 12:21pm 26 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 helicopter fly on Mars yet?

“A lot of people thought it was not possible to fly at Mars,” says MiMi Aung, the project manager of Ingenuity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “There is so little air.” ... ET on April 19—in the midafternoon local time on Mars—the helicopter successfully completed its first flight. 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 Successfully 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

Ingenuity, a NASA helicopter no heavier than a 2-liter bottle of soda, has pulled off the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The feat took place at 12:31 a.m. PT on Monday morning, but it wasn't until over three hours later that NASA engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory received the first data from Mars.

The first flight of Ingenuity is an impressive milestone in space exploration, paving the way for future missions to the red planet to utilize the skies. Learning to fly on Earth was difficult enough, but flying on Mars was a grand engineering challenge. NASA has shown that it was up to the task.

"We've been talking for so long about our Wright brothers moment on Mars, and here it is," said Ingenuity Mars helicopter project manager MiMi Aung, after ripping up her contingency speech. "We can now say that humans have flown a rotorcraft on another planet."

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Ingenuity was not controlled by engineers on Earth during its attempt. Instead, commands were uploaded to the spacecraft that took it from preflight checks to powered flight in a matter of seconds. The rotor blades spun up to 2,537 rpm, about six times faster than an Earth-based craft. Six seconds after startup, Ingenuity's blades were able to generate lift by slicing through the tenuous atmosphere on the red planet.

Two images were released of Ingenuity in flight -- one showing the shadow of the rotorcraft on the surface of Mars, and one captured from the side by the Mars rover.

You can rewatch NASA's livestream below.

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. An issue with the "watchdog" timer prevented the helicopter from spinning up correctly, but Ingenuity's engineering team has corrected the problem. The solution, they said, allows for the chopper to "transition to flight mode and prepare for lift-off about 85% of the time." 

It's almost 120 years since Orville and Wilbur Wright got their experimental plane off the ground near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, documented in a famous black-and-white image of the flyer taken just moments after it left the ground.

A post-flight press briefing, scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. PT, will likely see the first images and videos downlinked for viewing. Notably, Perseverance, NASA's next-gen Mars rover and previous home for Ingenuity, was stationed just 200 feet away at a location known as Van Zyl Overlook. The rover likely captured the history-making flight with its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers. 

Ingenuity will have nabbed its own images, too, with black-and-white images used to navigate and color photographs beamed back to JPL's mission control later on Monday. We'll have those images on CNET as soon as they make it back to Earth.

With one successful flight under its belt, NASA's Ingenuity team isn't done. A series of increasingly difficult flights will be attempted in the coming weeks, pushing the limits of the tiny helicopter that could. It may not have covered quite  the same distance as the Wright brothers, but Ingenuity has opened a path to achieve feats just as stunning elsewhere in the cosmos. 

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NASA leaders analyze historic Mars helicopter flight

10 Tampa Bay 19 April, 2021 - 02:10pm

Qualcomm expands its chipset monopoly to Mars

Android Police 19 April, 2021 - 09:19am

Anyone who's been following the ins and outs of Android for the last few years will remember the OnePlus One. The teasers and promotions were pretty obnoxious, but the phone itself was great when it launched in 2014. A big part of that was thanks to the Snapdragon 801, which made the OPO faster than any other phone in its price range. This powerful ARM chip popped up in a lot of less influential (and more expensive) devices that same year, and now it's on Mars. The Snapdragon 801 is at the heart of NASA's Ingenuity helicopter, which just made history as the first machine to take flight on another planet.

The Ingenuity helicopter rode to Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down in Jezero Crater earlier this year. The rover is the primary element of the mission—Ingenuity was added later as a technology demonstration. It has now demonstrated not only the ability to fly in the thin Martian atmosphere, but also that powerful terrestrial hardware like the Snapdragon 801 can operate in the harsh environment of Mars. The drone lifted off at 3:34 AM EDT, and remained in the air for less than a minute. It took a photo of its own shadow on the surface (below) before landing safely.

A dream takes flight: The Ingenuity #MarsHelicopter has flown in the thin atmosphere of the Red Planet.

More test flights are planned for the coming days. In the future, flying robotic scouts may join new rovers and even astronauts in their explorations. https://t.co/b4vJBvVP06 pic.twitter.com/5f3wCpLCQW

— NASA Mars (@NASAMars) April 19, 2021

Perseverance is the most advanced robot ever sent to Mars, but it's a fossil in terms of raw power. The CPU inside is essentially a 20-year-old PowerPC chip—it's not very fast, but it's been hardened against radiation, of which there is a great deal on Mars. It's the same design used for Curiosity, which has been happily rolling around the red planet since 2012. Ingenuity doesn't have that level of ruggedness, but it shows that off-the-shelf hardware does have a place in these missions. In the future, it may be possible to use multiple consumer chips in a voting scheme to compensate for environmental damage, and that could make our robotic explorers much more powerful. The Snapdragon 801, for instance, is an order of magnitude faster than Perseverance's CPU.

With this first flight out of the way, NASA plans to tackle more daring flights in the coming weeks, sending the helicopter higher and farther. Ingenuity probably won't be around to see how Perseverance gets along, though. The helicopter was designed for a short-term demo mission, and it most likely will not survive its first Martian winter.

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