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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday March 24 2021, @02:48PM   Printer-friendly

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.

[...] HÃ¥vard 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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  • (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.

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
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