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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!

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: 2) by HiThere on Monday March 29 2021, @02:16PM (2 children)

    by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 29 2021, @02:16PM (#1130744) Journal

    There's a problem with the 2 year lag in supplies arriving once you know you need them.

    We don't yet have a "nearly closed ecosystem" for use in space. And it's both really slow and really expensive to send mass that far. This is one reason a Lunar base would make sense as a first step, even though it probably couldn't develop into something self-sufficient. (Well, actually it could, but it will take many more advances before it's practical.)

    FWIW, my eventual goal is mobile cities in space with "nearly closed ecosystems". Nearly closed enough that they can "live off the land". And don't think of mobile as fast. To avoid problems with meteors, etc. they will need to travel at close to the rate of the local drift, but to keep entering new areas with unused resources they'll need to travel at a slightly different speed. I'd like them to live in the Oort clouds until they decide to take off for other areas, but that will probably require controlled fusion. (Don't think James Blish, think George Zebrowski...but he put more speed on his Megalife than I think plausible.) And my answer to Fermi's paradox is that once they've lived a few decades in a space city, nobody wants to live on a planet. (But we might look for abandoned mines out in the Oort clouds.)

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @06:39PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29 2021, @06:39PM (#1130883)

    A manned moon base can never be fully self-sufficient as there is no known source of chlorine, but you are correct that it is ideal both for practice and as a supply base for the materials it can provide. All airless bodies have similar issues. Mars can become self-sufficient given time but that is another major hurdle on its own.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @04:42AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @04:42AM (#1131073) Journal

      A manned moon base can never be fully self-sufficient as there is no known source of chlorine

      While it is presently unknown, my take is that there's probably deep crust sources of chlorine in the Moon. All that volcanism is chemically similar to volcanism on Earth (which often has a lot of chlorine and fluorine in it, such as at Iceland), and we know from the dispersion of some lava eruptions on the Moon, that at one point it did have considerable volatiles in the magma source to cause that dispersion. So it is reasonable to expect that some of these volatiles are still trapped in the Moon or chemically bonded to igneous rock.

      A stronger case can be made for hydrogen and nitrogen which both are similarly scarce on the Moon's surface, but required in far greater quantities.