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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 28 2021, @07:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the First-Post-on-Mars! dept.

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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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @03:23AM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @03:23AM (#1130590)

    I realize that both NASA and JPL have tremendous PR departments with bigger budgets than most laboratories, but the build up and hype for this is remarkable. It is a neat project, which they've gone out of their way to let you know they have zero requirements to declare success, and they're making it sound like this is the hardest thing that civilization has ever attempted. Have we all forgotten that on just this very mission they dropped a 1000 kg SUV-sized rover from a sky crane, all autonomously, and now flying a toy helicopter is the most amazing thing ever attempted by mankind? I'm WAY more impressed with the sky crane.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday March 29 2021, @05:52AM (9 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29 2021, @05:52AM (#1130629) Journal
    Keep in mind that the plane is flying in atmosphere that never gets higher pressure than about 1% of an Atmosphere, which is equivalent crudely to 100k feet at Earth. The manned, air breathing (that is, an aircraft that isn't propelled by rocket, which doesn't require atmosphere) aircraft altitude record on Earth is a bit over 120k feet [wikipedia.org]. Helicopters barely broke 40k feet.

    There are a couple of factors that work in favor of the vehicle - gravity is a third of Earths, and a CO2 atmosphere is significantly denser than the corresponding pressure nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere of Earth.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @06:45AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @06:45AM (#1130645)

      I think you meant to say "denser at the same pressure", but otherwise spot on.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @07:46AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @07:46AM (#1130665)

        I just love it when khallow attempts to do science! It smells like, . . . , well it just smells.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @04:50AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @04:50AM (#1131076) Journal
          Was there something wrong with my science? "and a CO2 atmosphere is significantly denser than the corresponding pressure nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere of Earth" is a little clunky writing-wise, but factually correct.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @12:13PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @12:13PM (#1130692)

      I understand all of that. I would hope that on this program they would have done some vacuum chamber testing to validate their computer modeling. I'm not saying that this is a trivial thing to do, I'm just saying that it is very over hyped, in my opinion. They know all the important principles to adapt a design. I'd be more impressed if they could do this on a planet like Mercury. Not THAT would be incredible!

      I would also take issue with the article suggesting that this is much harder than what the Wright Bros. did by saying that it took mankind thousands of years to finally get airborne and these guys have to do the same thing from scratch in just a few years. I won't bother going into the reasons why this is an asinine comment, but I would point out that the Wright Bros. had to figure the practical principles of aerodynamics out as they were going, AND they also put their own butts in the seat to try them out.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @01:30PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @01:30PM (#1130719)

        A little perspective on overnight success... and a reminder how hard it is to really do something.

        1709 – Model glider design

        Bartolomeu Laurenço de Gusmao designs a model glider.

        1783 – Hot air balloon flight

        The first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was on 21 November 1783 in Paris, France in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.

        1843 – Biplane design

        George Cayley’s biplane design is published.

        1895 – Biplane gliders

        Otto Lilienthal flies biplane gliders.

        1903 – First powered flight

        Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first recorded powered, sustained and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine.

        • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Monday March 29 2021, @02:24PM (1 child)

          by HiThere (866) on Monday March 29 2021, @02:24PM (#1130752) Journal

          I'm not sure the hot air balloons fit into the sequence. And you left out all the designs that didn't work at all, going back before Leonardo da Vinci. Daedalus fits in there somewhere.

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          • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anti-aristarchus on Monday March 29 2021, @08:45PM

            by Anti-aristarchus (14390) on Monday March 29 2021, @08:45PM (#1130905) Journal

            Daedalus' flying machines worked! The teenaged Icarus just didn't read the Fine Manual.

            --
            More truth to be done.
        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Monday March 29 2021, @04:03PM

          by Tork (3914) on Monday March 29 2021, @04:03PM (#1130789)
          1899 - First Combat Use
          Arthur Morgan and Sadie Adler successfully used a hot air balloon to break the notorious John Marston out of Sisika Penitentiary.
          --
          Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @05:07AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @05:07AM (#1131077) Journal

        I'd be more impressed if they could do this on a planet like Mercury. Not THAT would be incredible!

        You would get your helicopter to fly by using rockets. Remember, Mercury doesn't have a buoyant atmosphere in which a helicopter can fly. Mars barely does, only during the summer at low altitude.