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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @11:59PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06 2021, @11:59PM (#1134084)

    The skycrane was a rocket. Those have been done many, many times. This is an aircraft, and winged flight has never been done on another planet before.

  • (Score: 2) by Anti-aristarchus on Wednesday April 07 2021, @07:34AM

    by Anti-aristarchus (14390) on Wednesday April 07 2021, @07:34AM (#1134200) Journal

    and winged flight has never been done on another planet before.

    There was the ill-fated "Moonplane", but it never really got off the ground.