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posted by janrinok on Thursday October 06 2022, @02:56AM   Printer-friendly

NASA's Mars Helicopter Snags Mysterious Foreign Object on 33rd Flight - ExtremeTech:

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter was intended as a short-term demonstration when it was approved to ride along with the Perseverance rover. However, it's gone above and beyond anyone's expectations. The first-ever flying vehicle on another world has just completed its 33rd flight on Mars. It was a lot like the previous flights, except that Ingenuity appears to have stepped in something. NASA reports a mysterious "foreign debris object" (FOD) was hooked on the helicopter's foot for part of the flight before flying off.

[...] Just after Ingenuity took off, a foreign debris object (FOD) appeared on one of its legs. The record of the flight appears to show the object flapping in the breeze before dropping off. NASA says the FOD's presence did not affect the flight, and Ingenuity landed without issue at Airfield X (NASA stopped naming the landing zones after the first one). Whatever the material was, it was not massive enough to affect the helicopter's telemetry.

The team is currently investigating what the FOD was, but it certainly didn't look like something you'd normally find on Mars. It looked like plastic or paper, judging by the way it moved. That means it either came from Ingenuity, Perseverance, or some other piece of NASA's mission hardware — there's nothing else artificial in that part of the red planet.

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  • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Tuesday October 11 2022, @08:07PM

    by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday October 11 2022, @08:07PM (#1276113)

    Gotta disagree. The readily available resources and advantages are quite different -

    Mars has "plentiful" and easily accessible natural water and carbon dioxide, which makes it a *much* more attractive target for farming and ecological development, and higher gravity and a surprisingly radiation-opaque atmosphere, which makes it much more colonist friendly. It's a great place to homestead, at least compared to anywhere else off Earth. But doesn't seem to have any exports to Earth with which to pay for all the necessary imports.

    I can see totaly Mars eventually making a good staging and support (and vacation) area for the asteroid belt - it passes by everything every year or so, unlike Ceres or 16Psyche which may take decades between approaches to asteroids in nearby orbits. But I suspect the asteroid mining will have to get going before Mars colonization takes off, just for economic reasons. As asteroid industrialization begins to mature, you'll have both the technology and refined resources for Mars development available closer and cheaper than from Earth, while having a market for "higher" foods, vacations, and other things Mars can provide to the Belt more easily than Earth can.

    The Moon has much more concentrated silicon, iron, aluminum, titanium, and some other metals in the regolith, along with huge amounts of readily accessible oxygen freed when refining them.(40% oxygen, 7-13% aluminum, 13-5% iron -- lowlands-highlands), and 2.3x the solar energy density. Excellent for industrial development, refueling, and environmental support applications. And its proximity to Earth, and much shallower gravity, well make it ideal for providing resources for orbital development. Especially since its lack of atmosphere and orbit around Earth means you can use a SpinLaunch or other mass-driver system to launch payloads directly into Earth orbit for under 1kWh/kg (plus inefficiencies) without *any* hideously inefficient rocket assist. In contrast, any launch from a planet requires rocket assist to circularize your orbit before crashing back to the ground. Unless you want to launch into a solar orbit, which is generally inconvenient.

    The moon also provides an excellent training ground to develop most asteroid mining and industrial technologies, with Earth conveniently close for assistance. And it masses ~85x more than the entire asteroid belt combined... so there's that. Plus, in the tropics it's naturally a nice nice, steady, comfortable ~70 degrees all day and all year... once you're at least a meter below the surface. So you don't need to be continuously fighting the cold like on Mars or the asteroid belt.

    I've got to ask - why stop your asteroids at Mars though? Unless you're crashing ice asteroids for terraforming purposes, you're talking about pushing mountains across the solar system rather than just the few percent of valuable ores they contain - that's going to get expensive fast. Much cheaper to send the mining/refinery to them, which can then cheaply hop to the next nearby asteroid once the current one is tapped out.

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