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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday April 06 2021, @10:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the Baby-it's-cold-outside dept.

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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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @01:23PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @01:23PM (#1133852)

    Not like they didn’t test putting it in a freezer on Earth to test before sending to Mars.
    Mars - the ultimate ‘production’ deployment

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @03:03PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @03:03PM (#1133897)
    The drama will be if it goes out of control presenting a risk to Perseverance and then we find out if it's got a Flight Termination System. Will there be an earth-shattering a mars-shattering kaboom?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @08:03PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @08:03PM (#1134003)

      The rover is 4 pounds. So it it weighs about 1.5 pounds on Mars, will probably not fly especially high, and fall at a rate of 0.38G. It could probably drop out of the sky onto your head (on Mars) and you'd be fine. A metric ton rover designed to be dropped onto the planet and survive numerous extreme conditions, and operate for years, wouldn't even register it as noise.

  • (Score: 2) by corey on Wednesday April 07 2021, @11:57AM

    by corey (2202) on Wednesday April 07 2021, @11:57AM (#1134242)

    Yeah, of course. But the helicopter would have been exposed to those temperatures while attached to Perseverance anyway (unless it has a built in sauna). Maybe the residual heat of Perseverance would raise the night time temps a bit above that 130 below, but probably not by much.