Volcanic Blasts Deep Under The Ocean Are Shockingly Powerful, New Study Reveals

Science

ScienceAlert 22 April, 2021 - 12:51am 14 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

Draining the water from the oceans would reveal a vast and mostly unknown volcanic landscape. In fact, the majority of Earth's volcanic activity occurs underwater and at depths of several kilometers in the deep ocean.

But in contrast to terrestrial volcanoes, even detecting that an eruption has occurred on the seafloor is extremely challenging.

Consequently, there remains much for scientists to learn about submarine volcanism and its role in the marine environment.

Now our new study on deep-sea eruptions, published in Nature Communications, gives important insights.

Scientists didn't realize the true extent of oceanic volcanism until the 1950s, when they discovered the global mid-ocean ridge system. This finding was pivotal to the theory of plate tectonics. The network of volcanic ridges runs more than 60,000 kilometers around the globe.

Subsequent exploration led to the detection of "black smoker" vents, where mineral-rich "hydrothermal" fluids (heated water in Earth's crust) are ejected into the deep ocean.

Driven by heat from the underlying magma, these systems influence the chemistry of the entire oceans. The vents also host "extremophiles" – organisms that survive in extreme environments that were once thought to be unable to sustain life.

But many questions remain. It has long been thought that deep-sea eruptions themselves are rather uninteresting compared to the variety of eruptive styles observed on land.

Terrestrial volcanoes that produce similar types of magma to those on the seafloor, such as in Hawaii or Iceland, often produce spectacular explosive eruptions, dispersing volcanic ash (called tephra). This type of eruption was thought to be highly improbable in the deep ocean due to the pressure from the overlying water.

But data collected via remotely operated submarine vehicles has shown that tephra deposits are surprisingly common on the seafloor. Some marine micro-organisms (foraminifera) even use this volcanic ash to construct their shells.

These eruptions are probably driven by expanding bubbles of carbon dioxide. Steam, which is largely responsible for explosive eruptions on land, cannot form at high pressures.

Scientists have also sporadically detected massive regions of hydrothermal fluid in the ocean above volcanic ridges. These enigmatic regions of heated, chemical-rich water are known as megaplumes.

Their size is truly immense, with volumes that can exceed 100 cubic kilometers – equivalent to over 40 million Olympic swimming pools.

But while they seem to be linked to seafloor eruptions, their origin has remained a mystery.

In our study, we used a mathematical model to explain the dispersal of submarine tephra through the ocean. Thanks to detailed mapping of a volcanic ash deposit in the north-east Pacific, we know that this tephra can spread up to several kilometers from the site of an eruption.

This cannot be explained easily by tides or other oceanic currents. Our results instead suggest that the plumes must be highly energetic. Like the atmospheric plumes seen at terrestrial volcanoes, these initially rise upwards through the water before spreading out horizontally.

The heat transfer required to drive this flow, and carry the tephra with it, is surprisingly large at around one terawatt (double that required to power the entire USA at once). We calculated that this should create plumes of a similar size that has indeed been measured.

Our work provides strong evidence that megaplumes are linked to active seafloor eruptions and that they form very rapidly, probably in a matter of hours.

So, what is the specific source of this intense input of heat and chemicals that ultimately creates a megaplume? The most obvious candidate is of course the freshly erupted molten lava. At first glance, our results seemed to support such a hypothesis.

They show that megaplume formation occurs concurrently with the eruption of lava and tephra. But when we calculated the amount of lava required for this it was unrealistically high, around ten times greater than most submarine lava flows.

Our best guess for now is that, while megaplume creation is closely linked to seafloor eruptions, they primarily owe their origin to the emptying of reservoirs of hydrothermal fluids that are already present within the ocean crust. As magma forces its way upwards to feed seafloor eruptions, it may drive this hot (>300°C) fluid with it.

We now know that diverse microorganisms live in rocks below the surface. As startling as the discovery of extremophile lifeforms around hydrothermal vents was, this discovery pushed our ideas of what life is, and where it might exist, even further.

The fact that our research suggests that megaplumes come from the crust is consistent with the detection of such bacteria within some megaplumes.

The rapid outpouring of fluids associated with megaplume formation may actually be the primary mechanism that disperses these microorganisms from their subterranean origin. If so, then deep-sea volcanic activity is an important factor influencing the geography of these extremophile communities.

Some scientists believe that the unusual physical and chemical conditions associated with seafloor hydrothermal systems may have provided a suitable environment for the origin of life on Earth. Megaplumes may therefore have been involved in spreading this life across the ocean.

If life is to be found elsewhere in our solar system then hydrothermal vents, such as those thought to exist on Saturn's moon Enceladus, would be a good place to look.

In the absence of other sources of nutrients and light, these types of organisms – possibly the first to exist on our planet – owe their existence to the heat and chemicals supplied by the magma that rises upwards to feed seafloor volcanoes.

Since megaplume-transported volcanic ash deposits seem to be common at deep sea volcanoes, the results of our research suggest that the proliferation of life through megaplume emissions may be widespread.

While being able to observe a deep-sea eruption in person remains unlikely for now, efforts are being made to collect data on submarine volcanic events.

The most notable of these is the observatory at Axial Volcano in the Pacific. This array of seafloor instruments can stream data in real time, capturing events as they happen.

Read full article at ScienceAlert

Profile of Egyptian chosen for Mars mission

AP Archive 23 April, 2021 - 08:00am

‘Ingenuity’: a helicopter that will fly over Mars

EL PAÍS in English 23 April, 2021 - 08:00am

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These last weeks have been spent testing and calibrating the cameras and mechanisms on board, a long and complicated task. Perseverance has moved around 100 meters, in search of a flat space to deposit the helicopter – a Martian heliport, if you will. The protective elements have since been removed and the connecting cables uncoupled.

Perseverance has also released the clamps that held the helicopter in place, allowing it to unfold its four fragile legs and fall to the ground. The vehicle will later reverse and move to a safe distance, leaving a clear space and letting Ingenuity charge its batteries using solar power.

It will have the entire Martian sky at its disposal when it takes its first flight, which was originally planned for April 12, but has now been delayed until April 14.

Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the exploration of the red planet.

Why put a helicopter on Mars? Ingenuity represents the testing of a concept, an exercise in engineering. It will not be carrying out scientific or exploration tasks. It is to demonstrate that it can fly in an environment as hostile and unknown as the Martian atmosphere.

Does it work like a conventional helicopter? Mostly, yes. It uses twin rotors, with one of the blades revolving in one direction and the other in the opposite, to compensate the movement and stop the vehicle from spinning. That is why it doesn’t need a tail rotor. In this sense, it is closer to a drone than a helicopter.

Will it be able to maneuver in Mars’ thin atmosphere? That is what will be tested. The density of the air is barely a hundredth of that of the Earth, equivalent to what you would find at 30,000 meters. No conventional aircraft flies that high, and certainly not a helicopter, whose operational ceiling is way below 8,000 meters. In order to take off, the rotors will spin at around 2,400 revolutions a minute, close to the speed of a blender and five times faster than the blades of a conventional helicopter. The situation is so delicate that the flights have been planned for just after midday on the planet, when the density of the air should haven increased by a tiny amount and will help with lift.

Why has this design been chosen and not the typical one used for drones? For a very simple reason: it wouldn’t have fit. In order to fly in the thin Martian air, Ingenuity needs very big blades, measuring more than a meter in diameter but weighing (on Mars) less than a kilo. They are not foldable and fit snugly underneath Perseverance. A quadcopter would not have fitted there.

Has it been tested on Earth? As far as possible. Its design is mostly based on mathematical models using what is known about the Martian atmosphere and climate. The prototype has flown inside a vacuum chamber, but only after it was made lighter in order to simulate lower gravity. As such, the rehearsals were only done using the propulsion system and landing gear – its navigation electronics and batteries were left on the ground, connected to the helicopter via a cable. The only testing under real conditions can be done on Mars.

Is it autonomous? It has to be. Radio signals take more than 10 minutes to reach Mars from Earth. This delay means that it is impossible to control a helicopter – or practically any other kind of vehicle – from the Earth. That said, autonomous does not necessarily mean “intelligent.” Ingenuity’s flights have been planned in advance. The instructions for take-off, altitude and route were stored in its memory long before the flight will begin, and the craft will follow them as best as it can. Its capacity for decision making is limited to correcting deviations due, for example, to gusts of wind.

In the future, other models may be able to understand more complex orders, such as “travel to that rock avoiding protrusions from the ground” (this is something that Perseverance knows how to do, to a certain point).

Is it carrying a flight computer on board? Yes, it’s a commercial unit, and very similar to the one in the cellphone that you’ve got in your pocket. It doesn’t have a lot of memory, two gigabytes of RAM and 32 of ROM, about the same as a basic phone. But it does have a much better battery life, and also a small panel of solar cells to recharge it, as well as to power heaters that protect it from the very cold nights on Mars.

Will it broadcast images? Yes, directly to Perseverance and from there to Earth. One of its cameras, in black and white, points directly down to the ground. It only has a modest quality, a bit like the VGA from our old computers. The other camera is high definition, and is pointed forward at an oblique angle. The latter promises to provide the most spectacular images, with a quality in excess of 4K.

What kind of autonomy does it have? Ninety seconds of flight. Its small batteries don’t last any longer. In that time, it can reach a ceiling of 10 meters of altitude and move around 300 meters at most. The first flight will involve a vertical ascent up to three meters. It will then rotate, as if it were scanning the horizon, and then land. Nothing spectacular. Later attempts should see it fly higher and further.

Will it accompany Perseverance on its exploration of the crater? No. Perseverance has its own program of experiments and the helicopter, a last-minute stowaway, is not among them. The flight team was given around a month for its tests. In total, it is due to make five flights. Then Ingenuity will land more or less where it is now, and Perseverance will head off to do its tasks, leaving it abandoned even if its equipment is still in perfect working order.

Good things come to those who wait — like Mars helicopters

Inverse 23 April, 2021 - 08:00am

Plus: We’ve found a surprising connection between keto diets and sobriety.

The reason the whirlygig won’t fly might also seem somewhat concerning given the fact it's some 172 million miles away from Earth. Here’s the official reason from NASA:

Keen to put a ... positive spin on the rotor matter, NASA also declared “the helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.”

I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily, your daily digest of the latest science and innovation stories. Thank you for being here!

“The biggest error is to say that sustainable fisheries don’t exist. This is like saying that sustainable agriculture doesn’t exist.”

That’s Bryce D. Stewart, who opines in a viral thread on Twitter that Seaspiracy “regularly exaggerates & makes links where there aren't any.”

Stewart is a marine ecologist and fisheries biologist at the University of York in England. He has spent 20 years researching the managing of fisheries and marine protected areas.

So we reached out to him to find out exactly what Seaspiracy gets wrong.

Humans and apes may be closely related, but brains are where we differ. Human brains are larger and structurally different, especially in the areas that allow us to do things apes can’t, namely complex cognitive tasks like talking about the future and past.

But when did this change happen in our evolutionary history? A new study of fossil hominin braincases reveals early species in the genus Homo had a “much more primitive brain” than previously thought, study author and anthropology professor at the University of Zürich Christoph Zollikofer tells Inverse.

Twitch is cracking down on bad behavior. Again.

The streaming platform began enforcing new policies on hateful conduct and harassment back in January. They were designed to police users engaging in racist behavior, sexual harassment, and more. Despite the tighter rules, the policy only extended to what was happening on Twitch’s own platform.

On April 7, Twitch rolled out an even stricter policy that encompasses off-site misconduct.

It might sound like the kind of detox scheme dreamed up by an exclusive private rehab center in Malibu — the promise that, with the right combination of nutrients and macros, you could wave goodbye to an addiction.

But this could become a reality. Researchers are looking into the keto diet — the trendy eating regimen that’s taken over the wellness corner of the internet — as a potential tool for treating alcohol use disorder.

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity: What happens next, second flight, future missions

CNET 23 April, 2021 - 08:00am

Ingenuity did it! On April 19, the NASA chopper took to the skies over Mars, hovering briefly above the surface before returning to land. But the feat, a turning point in otherworldly exploration, is just the beginning. 

NASA's wheeled rovers have taught us an incredible amount about Mars. Revealing the planet's wet history, the chemistry of its soil and the puzzling presence of methane in its atmosphere, the agency's rolling robots have been indispensable in painting a picture of one of Earth's closest neighbors. But they can't cover a lot of ground -- slow movement is critical to prevent them from tumbling over a cliff or colliding with a rock. 

But imagine if they could fly. 

Strapping a set of wings to a robot on another planet would open up a whole new way to explore other worlds. "The ability to fly wherever you want, at great speed, for a closeup view without risk of damage from collision or fall, is a thrilling capability," says Alan Duffy, a professor in astrophysics at Swinburne University in Australia. 

NASA seems to have gotten closer to that capability with Ingenuity, a tiny rotorcraft weighing no more than a two-liter bottle of soda. After a number of delays, Ingenuity briefly took to the skies of Mars on April 19 for an initial flight, the first time humans have achieved powered, controlled flight on another planet -- and "a Wright brothers moment" in a different part of the cosmos. 

From Mars to your inbox. Get the latest space stories from CNET every week.

There are significant challenges to flying on Mars, however, and going forward, Ingenuity will have to contend with a planet that particularly enjoys killing spacecraft. Regardless, having succeeded in getting off the ground (and getting back down!), the craft seems to have already paved the way for future missions, deeper in the cosmos. Here's why the Ingenuity mission is so ingenious.

If you're wondering how NASA got a helicopter to Mars and feel like you haven't heard too much about it, it's probably because NASA's Perseverance rover stole all the limelight. Ingenuity is a "ride-along" mission and a tech demonstration. It isn't on Mars to perform any science. Rather, it's built to show that powered flight is possible on another world. 

Ingenuity was tucked away in the belly of Perseverance during the rover's long sojourn from Earth to Mars, which kicked off in July. The rover landed on the planet back in February, and Ingenuity was safe and sound from the harsh, cold Martian surface until April 4, when Perseverance carefully deposited the chopper onto the soil.

While on board Perseverance, Ingenuity was protected and powered by the rover's suite of instruments. But after it was dropped off, and Perseverance rolled away, Ingenuity was cold and alone -- quite literally. Mars temperatures plummet well below freezing at night, to around minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, Ingenuity showed it can cope with the cold when it survived its first night separated from its rover pal.

The relationship with Perseverance hasn't ended, though. When Ingenuity takes its first flight, it will be Perseverance that relays those messages back to Earth

On April 6, Ingenuity took its first photograph of Mars, a low-resolution, orange-and-brown snapshot of the surface. It's not much, but if you want to get technical, it's the first time a vehicle capable of flight has taken a photo of the red planet's surface, so that's pretty cool. 

On April 10, NASA said it was delaying Ingenuity's first flight until "no earlier than April 14," due to a safety alert during a test the previous day of the copter's rotors. During that test, "the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," the space agency said in a status update. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from 'Pre-Flight' to 'Flight' mode.'" 

NASA added that the watchdog timer "oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed."

The Ingenuity team diagnosed the issue and rescheduled the rotor test based on its findings, the agency said, adding that the 'copter was "safe and healthy." And it showed it. The date was revised again and the first flight eventually took place on April 19.

There are a ton of challenges to achieving flight on Mars, but the major one is the air

There's a stark difference in atmosphere between the red planet and Earth. The Martian atmosphere is incredibly thin compared with our own, so achieving lift is far more difficult. Ingenuity is designed to deal with this problem. While we've already called it everything from a chopper to a flier, a helicopter to a rotorcraft, the tech it most reminds me of is a drone. 

However, its blades are much larger than those for a similar-sized craft on Earth, and they spin at around 2,400 rpm -- six times faster than on an Earth-based craft. At this speed and size, Earth-based tests have shown Ingenuity should be able to get off the ground on Mars without issue.

Unlike a drone, though, no one is piloting the vehicle in real time. The Ingenuity team had to upload instructions to the craft well in advance and will then receive data back after it's made its flight. Ingenuity is designed to be very autonomous and to keep itself healthy during the communications delay between the two planets.  

Prior to Perseverance's landing in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, the Ingenuity team was looking for an "airfield" and surrounding "flight zone" -- a flat, mostly empty area on Mars' surface that won't jeopardize the safety of Ingenuity.

Fortunately, there was one basically next door to the landing site. "We began to realize we might have a really great airfield, right in front of our noses," said NASA's Håvard Fjær Grip, the chief pilot for Ingenuity. Grip says the team looked at "every rock and pebble" before deciding on home base for the helicopter.

Within 30 sols (about 31 Earth days), Ingenuity plans to make five flights, but the first is the most important. It will be a fairly simple flight.

The rotorcraft will take off, straight up, to an altitude of around three meters (around 10 feet) and hover in place for around 30 seconds. Then it will make a small turn, before coming down and landing again. During the flight, Ingenuity's eyes and brain will be working overtime, preprogrammed by the team to keep the craft safe. 

It will be snapping 30 images per second of the ground to understand where it is and to make any necessary trajectory changes -- around 500 times per second, according to Grip. This autonomy ensures Ingenuity won't be blown off course by a sudden Martian gust. 

On April 19, at around 12:31 a.m. PT, Ingenuity took to the skies for the first time. The mission proceeded exactly as planned and cheers erupted at JPL as data streamed back to Earth confirming flight, landing and touchdown. Immediately after, the first images started trickling in. 

You can watch the high-definition replay below -- and as you can see, the chopper did get knocked around a little by the Martian winds.

The first flight was undoubtedly impressive: It signified a turning point for getting around on other worlds. But we're itching for more -- and so is the Ingenuity team. 

"We will take a moment to celebrate our success and then take a cue from Orville and Wilbur regarding what to do next," MiMi Aung, project manager of Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, said, referring to the Wright brothers. "History shows they got back to work to learn as much as they could about their new aircraft -- and so will we."

A second flight has been penciled in for no earlier than Thursday, April 22, but don't expect the team to get too reckless with the flight profile. Aung and her team have a 30-day window to make a number of flights and, provided all goes well, they'll look to make five in total, getting faster and flying further each time. 

As NASA engineers have reiterated many times: Ingenuity is a "technology demonstration," just like the very first Mars rover, Sojourner, which rolled across the planet in 1997. 

In many ways, Ingenuity has already succeeded: It survived the journey to Mars, set itself up on the planet and survived its first night alone in the cold. Its first flight will be momentous, not just for Mars exploration but for exploration of our entire solar system. 

"If Ingenuity proves that we can successfully pilot aircraft on other planets, it will hugely expand the options for exploration in the future," says Jonti Horner, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland. 

Flight is a powerful tool for exploration. If robots can stay in the air, they'll be able to ascend mountainous regions quickly, to investigate cracks in hillsides, to fly over lakes or lakebeds and to move quickly to avoid danger. With the right equipment, they may be able to snatch samples and bring them back to a rolling robot, too. You can even imagine a Mars rover-rotorcraft combo in the future, allowing space agencies to scout their landing location more accurately and decide on the best place to roll to the following day. 

There are other missions -- and worlds -- that will benefit from Ingenuity's demo, too. 

Dragonfly will explore Saturn's moon, Titan.

One such mission is NASA's Dragonfly, which Horner calls Ingenuity's "big sister," That mission will visit Titan, one of the most intriguing moons of Saturn. The moon is rich in organic matter, contains a nitrogen-rich atmosphere like Earth, and is home to massive methane lakes and storms. It may even contain signs of life, past or present.  

"Titan is unlike any other place in the solar system, and Dragonfly is like no other mission," says Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for the science mission directorate. It's a little more ambitious than Ingenuity, with the spacecraft containing all the necessary instruments to search for signs of life and to study the Selk impact crater, which is suspected to have once held liquid water. Dragonfly is scheduled to launch in 2027 and to reach Titan by 2034.

If Ingenuity gets off the ground, the dream of otherworldly flight will become a reality -- ushering in the next era of planetary space exploration.

NASA reschedules the flight of Ingenuity Mars Helicopter | GMA

Good Morning America 23 April, 2021 - 08:00am

Mars helicopter makes history with its first flight on another planet

Yahoo News 21 April, 2021 - 10:25am

Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter, is a ground-breaking technology demonstration to test powered, controlled rotor flight on Mars. This is something that was once thought to be impossible, due to Mars' extremely thin atmosphere. The mission team has now proved that this is, indeed, possible, and this could lead to new types of exploration on Mars.

After a few delays, the Mars helicopter performed its first test flight at 3:30 a.m. ET, on Monday, April 19.

During this test, Ingenuity spun its twin rotors up to 2,500 revolutions per minute. This generated enough lift for the helicopter to rise up into the air to a height of 3 metres above the ground. Ingenuity then hovered, pivoting towards Perseverance in the process, and gently lowered itself back to the ground.

"We can now say that human beings have flown a rotorcraft on another planet!" said Mimi Aung, Project Manager of the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The data from this flight was relayed to Earth via Perseverance and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, arriving shortly after 6:30 a.m. ET. The data to confirm the successful test consisted of a simple graph that showed the helicopter's altitude with time. Images taken by the downward-facing cameras on the helicopter were also transmitted back to Earth.

The best view of this flight, though, was provided by the Perseverance rover, via its high-resolution Mastcam-Z camera. Watch the flight, below:

Mars is a very dusty planet. This was a significant concern for the Ingenuity flight team, due to the potential for the test to kick up a substantial amount of dust, possibly causing problems with the flight, or obscuring their view of it from Perseverance.

During the flight, Perseverance captured high-resolution imagery, and NASA scientists applied special processing to those images to determine how much dust Ingenuity displaced during the flight. A side-by-side video is presented below, showing both the highly processed view used to detect the dust, and an enhanced view of the original footage with that dust movement added in.

According to NASA: "The view on the left uses motion filtering to show where dust was detected during liftoff and landing and the view on the right is enhanced with the motion filtering. Scientists use this image processing to detect dust devils as they pass by Mars rovers. A ghostly 'cut-out' of the helicopter is visible in each side-by-side format; that's an artifact related to the digital processing."

Originally, Ingenuity's test flight was scheduled for Sunday, April 11. In the days leading up to that date, however, the team noted a problem while testing its systems.

As the mission team reported in a status update: "During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from 'Pre-Flight' to 'Flight' mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth."

Based on this, the first flight was delayed until at least April 14.

In another update on April 12, they said that they found a way to program a solution to the problem that occurred. This required the new program to be validated and transmited to Ingenuity, and then the tiny drone would be rebooted for the new programming to take effect. Since this process was expected to take some time to complete, they delayed the date of the first test flight sometime during the week of April 19.

Several missions so far can be said to have 'flown' through Mars' atmosphere. When rovers and landers first enter the atmosphere from space, they are technically flying during the aerobraking phase, although it's more like controlled falling. In the case of Curiosity, its skycrane stage performed powered flight as it deposited the rover on the surface and then thrusted away to crash at a safe distance. Perseverance's skycrane did the same thing, but it went a step further, and performed actual 'controlled' flight. As it was descending towards the surface, the rover was taking images of the ground below, and the skycrane was reacting to what was captured, redirecting its flight path to set the rover down in a safe spot.

Still, none of these have done what Ingenuity has now accomplished.

Ingenuity performed the first powered, controlled aircraft flight on another planet. It was the first robot to land on Mars, take off again from the surface, and then land again safely.

So, why even test such a thing? With powered rotorcraft flight now a proven concept for Mars, this opens up a new facet to surface missions that we haven't explored yet.

Perhaps in the future, every new rover or lander mission will include a helicopter companion that can quickly explore and scout around where its primary is located. Or, perhaps we will fill Pathfinder-style landers with swarms of rotorcraft, which will fan out from 'basecamp' to quickly explore a wide area in a short amount of time. Or, the 'sample return' mission that is being planned to follow up on Perseverance could include helicopters designed to pick up those sample tubes and return them to the lander for return to Earth.

Also, when human missions finally arrive to explore Mars, each could bring several of these helicopters with them. This would allow them to scout out locations around the landing site in detail, to maximize the scientific potential of their visit.

Mars does not have the best environment for aircraft flight. It's cold and dusty, and this combination can put off some impressive static charge. These conditions can test the electronic hardware of any robot, especially that of a small helicopter drone.

The biggest challenge that Ingenuity faced, though, was the planet's atmosphere. The atmosphere of Mars has roughly one per cent of the surface pressure of Earth's atmosphere.

This has been a challenge for all missions that have landed on the planet. There's just barely enough air there for heat shields and parachutes to function properly, so every mission has needed something extra beyond those measures. For Pathfinder & Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity, airbags deployed after their parachutes had done what they could, which allowed the robots to bounce across the surface and eventually roll to a stop. The more massive Curiosity and Perseverance rovers required the impressive 'powered sky crane' maneuvers to touch down intact and safe.

For Ingenuity, the challenge was to generate enough lift in the extremely thin atmosphere to actually rise up off the ground and fly. To do this, it required specially designed rotors that spun up to 2,500 rpm — over three times faster than rotors on Earth need to spin.

Now, the mission team didn't go into this blindly, of course. They tested Ingenuity in a special chamber at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, known as the Space Simulator. In this immense sealed chamber, they recreated the cold, low-pressure atmospheric conditions that Ingenuity will encounter on Mars and then tailored the small helicopter to fly in those conditions.

The question of whether it will actually work in the real environment has now been answered! Watch for more updates in the days to come.

When NASA's Ingenuity helicopter took off for the first time on Mars on April 19th it was a history-making moment. No manmade spacecraft had ever achieved powered flight on another planet, and the pint-sized helicopter made it look relatively easy. Such a monumental occasion is surely worthy of some moment of reflection on behalf of NASA and the scientific community at large, but NASA didn't have any time to waste. Instead, it went ahead and broke Ingenuity's own record today, just a few days after the helicopter's maiden flight. In a new blog post, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reveals that the helicopter completed its second flight today, April 22nd, and it did so while extending the amount of time it remained in the air and also completed a couple of simple maneuvers as a bonus. It's unclear exactly how many flights NASA will attempt within the helicopter's one-month lifespan but with two already under its belt, the sky is the limit. According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the helicopter took off in the early morning hours (Eastern time) and went a bit higher than the first. The aircraft topped out at 16 feet of altitude, compared to the first flight which reached 10 feet. The helicopter reached its target altitude and then tilted roughly five degrees. This gave the craft some horizontal movement and Ingenuity traveled approximately seven feet sideways before once again righting itself. “The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions,” Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot at JPL, said in a statement. “Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here – to make these unknowns known.” These might sound like rather simple tasks for a helicopter, especially since drone technology has reached a point where you can spend $100 and get one that is capable of some seriously crazy maneuvers. However, building, testing, and eventually flying one of these crafts on Mars is a great deal more complicated. Real-time control just isn't possible due to the severe delay in communication, and the atmosphere of Mars is a whole lot different than that of Earth, changing the makeup of aerial maneuvers. NASA will have a few more weeks of life left in Ingenuity before it decides to call it quits, and during that time it hopes to perform several more flights. The helicopter's handlers may choose to make each successive flight more and more complicated, but Ingenuity's mission has no scientific objectives whatsoever. As a proof of concept, the aircraft's only job is to do what it's told and hopefully survive to send data back to Earth.

NASA’s little Mars helicopter aced its second test flight Thursday, soaring even higher and longer than before. The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) chopper, named Ingenuity, hovered longer and also flew side to side this time, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. “Go big or go home!” JPL tweeted in announcing the Earth Day news.

Thanks to the "MOXIE" instrument aboard NASA's Perseverance rover, humanity has produced breathable oxygen on Mars for the first time ever. The post Perseverance Makes First-Ever Manufactured Oxygen on Mars appeared first on Nerdist.

Having already stranded Mads Mikkelsen in the Arctic Circle, director Joe Penna apparently decided that his next survival film would amp up the desolation, settling upon the only plausible option: outer space. This time, however, the struggle for resources involves a horrific moral calculus, to be worked out by a crew of four. As the title suggests, it was meant to be three; Stowaway opens with the launch of a rocket headed for Mars (the year is never stated, but there’s a colony in place), commanded by Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) and including biologist David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim) and medic Zoe Levenson (Anna Kendrick). They’re on a two-year mission, roughly half of which will be spent in transit, six months each way. Only when they’re some distance from Earth, however, do they discover that a NASA tech dude, Michael Adams (Shamier Anderson), got knocked unconscious while making a last-minute check of the ship’s innards, somehow failed to be noticed as missing, and so inadvertently came along for the ride.

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Software update is planned to fix the barrier with ingenious helicopter

The Press Stories 12 April, 2021 - 08:24pm

The test was the long-awaited first flight of a $ 80 million mini helicopter Was taken to Mars by a rover of diligence NASA announced Monday that engineers have been suspended from testing the software to fix an issue that occurred Friday during a pre-flight test.

If all goes well, the team hopes to determine a new flight date next week.

Engineers initially expect the ingenious helicopter to launch Sunday on a plane above and below 30 seconds to test the 4-pound drone, which, in fact, could be automatically launched and circled in the ultra-thin atmosphere of Mars.

But during a test on Friday, the ingenious aircraft computer did not switch from one mode to another, as the copter’s 4-foot-long counter-rotating blades rotated. Close the test, as scheduled, in the board security software.

On Monday, JBL updated Helicopter level page Says a software update is pending.

“The software solution to the command line problem identified during the scheduled high-speed spin-up test (April 9) of the helicopter’s rotor has been cleverly identified,” the report said.

“This software update will change the boot process of the two flight controllers, allowing the hardware and software to be safely transferred to the airline. Changes to the flight software are independently reviewed and verified.”

Although the software bug was “straightforward”, the update said, “The process of checking it out and completing its link for ingenuity will take some time.”

If all goes well, the engineers will set a new date for the first flight of the helicopter next week.

“We are confident in the team’s ability to operate through this challenge and are preparing for the first controlled controlled flight of ingenuity on another planet,” the update said. Meanwhile, “intelligence on the surface of Mars remains consistently healthy. Important functions such as power, communication and thermal control are stable.”

The ingenuity behind a protective trash shield was carried to Mars 4 2.4 billion diligent rover. Seven months after its launch from Cape Canaveral on July 30, it embarked on an ambitious mission on February 18 to embark on an ambitious mission to search for signs of past microbial activity in ancient lake sediments.

Ingenuity made a ride as a technical demonstration experiment. It has no scientific instruments and is not part of Rover’s primary mission. The drone was added only to test the feasibility of the aircraft in thin Martian atmosphere.

If successful, more advanced helicopters could be sent to Mars for future missions to take the rovers to inaccessible areas or eventually to astronauts with scientific equipment.

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News 6 space expert talks all things Mars

WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando 11 April, 2021 - 09:20am

ORLANDO, Fla. – NASA is set to mark a major milestone in its mission on Mars.

News 6 space expert Emilee Speck sat down with News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth for “The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com” to talk all things Mars.

She explains the next steps for the Perseverance rover, as its Ingenuity helicopter prepares to take flight for the first time.

The flight was originally scheduled for Sunday, but NASA officials confirmed Saturday the flight would take place no sooner than Wednesday.

Speck also talks about SpaceX, its Starlink constellation, and what people can do to get internet access through SpaceX.

For more information on the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter’s test flight, check out ClickOrlando.com/space.

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