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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday March 24 2021, @02:48PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

NASA lays out plans for its first flights on Mars:

On Tuesday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) hosted a press conference where it detailed the plans for the Ingenuity drone that hitched a ride to Mars attached to the underside of the Perseverance rover. The scientists and engineers behind the drone announced that they've now picked a site for what is expected to be the first powered flight on another planet. With the site settled, they're now targeting April 8 for the flight, which will be the first in a month long series of test flights to validate the technology.

[...] Håvard Grip, Ingenuity's chief pilot, said that the test flights required two distinct areas, both of which needed to be flat. The inner part, which he called the airfield, had to have very little material that could interfere with landings. That needed to be surrounded by a larger area, called the flight zone, that had to have enough material in it that the drone's onboard image-processing system could track individual features in order to assist with navigation.

Grip said the search for an appropriate area started within a few hours of Perseverance's landing. That's because knowing where Perseverance was helped Grip and his colleagues search satellite imagery of the surrounding area. Once the rover was operational, the drone provided higher-resolution imagery of potential sites.

In the end, things couldn't be much more convenient, as the rover landed on what will be the edge of the flight zone, which extends north from the landing site.

[...] If everything goes well with depositing Ingenuity and its systems check out, the earliest we could see a flight is in two weeks, on April 8. A month has been set aside for five flights, with extensive checkouts of the system between each. During this time, however, Perseverance won't be able to move on to its main science mission.


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First Flight on Mars? Ingenuity Helicopter Preps for Takeoff 92 comments

Salon has an article on Ingenuity.

In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew a plane for 12 seconds, 120 feet in the air, on what is now known as the first powered-controlled flight on Earth. Now, 118 years later, the first powered-controlled attempt at a flight on another planet is about to take place.

According to NASA, Ingenuity — the four-pound rotorcraft attached to Perseverance — is on its way to its "airfield" on Mars.

The space agency announced that its target for its first takeoff attempt will happen no earlier than April 8, 2021.

Ingenuity was designed as an experiment to see if it is possible to fly on Mars as we do here on Earth. And the process leading up to the takeoff is a very meticulous one. Consider how long it took humans to stick a powered-controlled flight on Earth; given Mars' thin atmosphere and a twenty-minute delay in communication, it is arguably more challenging on Mars.

"As with everything with the helicopter, this type of deployment has never been done before," Farah Alibay, Mars helicopter integration lead for the Perseverance rover, said in a press statement. "Once we start the deployment there is no turning back."

Every move for the next couple of weeks could make or break Ingenuity's success — starting with precisely positioning the rotorcraft in the middle of its 33-by-33-foot square airfield, which is actually a flat field on the Martian surface with no obstructions. From there, the entire deployment process from Perseverance will take about six Martian days, which are called sols. (The Martian sol is thirty-nine minutes longer than an Earth day.)

Good luck, little chopper!

Previously:
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars
How NASA Designed a Helicopter that Could Fly Autonomously on Mars
NASA is Sending a Helicopter to Mars, but What For?


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NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Survives First Freezing Night on Mars 19 comments

News at CNN:

(CNN) The Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night on the freezing-cold surface of Mars, a major milestone in the rotorcraft's journey ahead of its historic first flight.

Jezero Crater, an ancient lake bed on Mars and the current site of the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, can drop to temperatures of minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That's low enough to do significant damage to the helicopter's electrical and battery components.

The 4-pound helicopter finally separated on April 3 from the belly of the Perseverance rover, where it has been stashed since before the rover launched from Earth in July.

Ingenuity went through a series of movements to unfold from beneath the rover, which looked like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, before dropping the final 4 inches to the Martian surface.

[...] "This is the first time that Ingenuity has been on its own on the surface of Mars," said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement. "But we now have confirmation that we have the right insulation, the right heaters, and enough energy in its battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win for the team. We're excited to continue to prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test."

When Ingenuity does fly, which could happen as soon as April 11, it will be the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. In a nod to the first such feat conducted on Earth, Ingenuity carries a swatch of fabric from the Wright brothers' plane, Flyer 1.

Ingenuity, the first rotorcraft sent to Mars, presented a challenge to the engineers who designed it for several reasons. It needed to be small enough to tuck up under the rover without endangering Perseverance's mission, which is the first to search for evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

April 11, or 4-11! Or later.

Previously:>br> NASA’s Mars Rover Drops Off Ingenuity Helicopter Ahead of Historic Flight
First Flight on Mars? Ingenuity Helicopter Preps for Takeoff
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars


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NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Set for 7th Red Planet Flight on Sunday 9 comments

Never Say Never Again

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity set for 7th Red Planet flight on Sunday:

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity will take to the air again this weekend, if all goes according to plan.

Ingenuity's handlers are prepping the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper for its seventh Martian flight, which will take place no earlier than Sunday (June 6). The plan is to send Ingenuity to a new airfield, about 350 feet (105 meters) south of its current location on the floor of Jezero Crater.

"This will mark the second time the helicopter will land at an airfield that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight," NASA officials wrote in an update on Friday (June 4). "Instead, the Ingenuity team is relying on imagery collected by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that suggests this new base of operations is relatively flat and has few surface obstructions."

Data from the flight will be beamed home to Earth over the three days following the flight, they added.

Video:See the view on Mars from Ingenuity helicopter's fourth flight

Previously:
Surviving an In-Flight Anomaly: What Happened on Ingenuity's Sixth Flight
Mars Helicopter Suffered Glitch During Flight, Forced Emergency Landing
Mars Helicopter Flight Delayed to No Earlier than April 14
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Survives First Freezing Night on Mars
NASA's Mars Rover Drops Off Ingenuity Helicopter Ahead of Historic Flight
First Flight on Mars? Ingenuity Helicopter Preps for Takeoff
NASA Lays Out Plans for its First Flights on Mars


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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @04:23PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @04:23PM (#1128401)

    They can lay out their plans all they want to.
    Nasa will be second if not third to the red planet.

    My money is on SpaceX, the whole point of SpaceX is so Elon Musk
    can grow a rose on Mars. That's it. So I pose a loaded question...

    Considering the various technologies Nasa and SpaceX have aquired
    and considering the length of time both have been in existance,
    which one is more probable in acheiving their desire first?

    I bet Elon Musk grows a rose on Mars before Nasa gets people there.

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Wednesday March 24 2021, @04:48PM

      by Tork (3914) on Wednesday March 24 2021, @04:48PM (#1128404)
      Yeah... take that, NASA!
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      Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Freeman on Wednesday March 24 2021, @04:59PM

      by Freeman (732) on Wednesday March 24 2021, @04:59PM (#1128407) Journal

      NASA has to deal with a congress full of people who want to siphon off money to their own district, if not pockets, directly. Elon Musk is essentially, the benevolent dictator of SpaceX as it were. There is no surprise that SpaceX can aim for a goal and do that. Whereas NASA gets to flip-flop around every 4 to 8 years and deals with all manner of bureaucratic nonsense. Not to mention, they're not just focused on going to Mars, not like we were focused on going to the Moon in the 60s. Also, Mars is really just a dream. What direct benefit to the people of the USA is there to sending someone to Mars? Not much. Elon Musk can afford to chase his dreams and NASA has been a facilitator of that dream, if not as big as they likely should have.

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      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 24 2021, @05:00PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday March 24 2021, @05:00PM (#1128408) Journal

      You got clickbaited. This is about the "Mars helicopter" that's already on Mars.

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      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Wednesday March 24 2021, @05:14PM (2 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 24 2021, @05:14PM (#1128411) Journal

      My money is on SpaceX, the whole point of SpaceX is so Elon Musk can grow a rose on Mars. That's it.

      Incorrect. The whole point of SpaceX is so Elon Musk can be the first human to copulate in Zero G.

      --
      Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @11:27PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @11:27PM (#1128562)

        Pretty sure some Shuttle or ISS astronauts beat him to it decades ago.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 25 2021, @04:24PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 25 2021, @04:24PM (#1128839) Journal

          Videos, or it didn't happen.

          --
          Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @08:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @08:15PM (#1128490)

    1. Phone Elon to be sure he has no flights booked that day
    2. Launch rocket to Mars
    3. Explain to congress why rocket blew up, ask for another $10 billion for a new one

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @11:31PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 24 2021, @11:31PM (#1128566)

    If you read the articles on Ars there were some interesting technical hurdles they had to overcome before they could even attempt to fly on Mars. It seems that thin cold air doesn't play well with helicopter blades and they had a few 'incidents' in the test chamber on Earth. They also sent a piece of the Wright Brothers' original flyer along for the first flight on another planet.

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