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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 c0lo on Tuesday March 30 2021, @05:47AM (7 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Tuesday March 30 2021, @05:47AM (#1131089) Journal

    Ok, get on with that back of the napkin computation.

    Given the first thing the... say... 25 colonist will need are shelters and that they're likely need to be protected by a layer of martian soil fast (not enough atmosphere and no magnetic field to protect against the radiation), probs 500kW installed power would be a minimum - soil is a bitch to move and compact. If what they say is true - some water present - drying it up to avoid corrosion may require even more.

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @08:06AM (6 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @08:06AM (#1131114) Journal

    probs 500kW installed power would be a minimum

    I think more like 100 kW base load, but let's go with the above. On Earth, one can get roughly 1 kW of solar generation capacity for 100 kg of mass, including mounting infrastructure, (see here [] for some numbers). Solar influx is halved for the more distant Mars, so that goes up to 1 KW for 200 kg (or 0.2 metric tons) of mass using said inefficient Earth system. 2000 kW of such capacity (using the rule of thumb that a quarter of that would base load power) would be 2000 kW*0.2 mT/kW=400 metric tons which isn't that much mass for a 25 person staff (I'd budget 100-200 mT per person for food, gear, spacecraft, shielding, and the above power generation).

    So just buying Earth-side solar power systems off the shelf and putting them on rockets, means you can get a large amount of generating power for surprisingly little mass.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30 2021, @08:46AM (5 children)

      by c0lo (156) on Tuesday March 30 2021, @08:46AM (#1131130) Journal

      Admitting the cargo is dropped in advance and the 25 get there afterwards - extra protection against radiation for more than 1 year journey, food, water, air etc will amount for something - how many SpaceX rockets for the PV alone?

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @09:27AM (4 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @09:27AM (#1131138) Journal
        If they're using Falcon 9s, they probably could get a ratio of 20 tons of cargo and 40 tons of propellant/booster (I'm going with chemical propulsion on a Falcon 9 upper stage). So 60 Falcon 9 launches would handle putting that stuff in Mars orbit. It still needs to get to the ground near the desired landing point on Mars and some payloads would be lost. My take though is that you probably can get it done in 100 launches from Earth. using present day launch technology. At $80 mil per, that's $8 billion in launch costs (ignoring significant economies of scale).
        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30 2021, @11:22AM (3 children)

          by c0lo (156) on Tuesday March 30 2021, @11:22AM (#1131145) Journal

          Batteries (yet to be invented - few chemistries -100C over the Martian night, cabling, equipment for transporting them in place (I doubt that the precision of Mars drops would be less than 10km radius) and assembly. And that's just the power.

          Air, water, short term shelter, food, recycling facilities. Protective equipment - you ain't gonna be able to repair the spacelike suits soon. Local comms, transponders, satellite dish for orbit.
          Binders to make bricks/beams/etc from Mars soil. Mini-earth moving equipment for building permanent shelters.
          Medicine/bandages, surgical equip, sterilizers, etc. - get to the closest hospital in about a year travel time.
          Entertainment - they'll be isolated.

          Mate, we aren't going to see them in our life time. The programme is gonna take longer than two election cycles and the govts will interfere.


          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 30 2021, @03:31PM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 30 2021, @03:31PM (#1131231) Journal
            So you're telling me that the problem is hard, it might require a lot of mass from Earth, and someone will probably need to work to get that stuff to work? Who knew?

            I'll just note that there are people who deal with hard space problems now, we have launch vehicles capable of putting the necessary mass into space now, and it's going to be a 25 person settlement, which means we would have some man-power out there with which to put stuff together when we'll need it put together.
            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday March 30 2021, @09:21PM (1 child)

              by c0lo (156) on Tuesday March 30 2021, @09:21PM (#1131364) Journal

              I'm telling you that is going to be a "super slow exploration".

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday March 31 2021, @04:25PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 31 2021, @04:25PM (#1131668) Journal
                "Super slow" compared to a few token unmanned missions a decade? No way.