Featured Image: NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity is seen on the surface of the Red Planet on April 5, 2021. / Source: NASA
NASA launched the Perseverance Rover on a seven-month-long voyage to Mars last year, on July 30, the rover landed on the Martian surface on February 18. Perseverance carried a small helicopter called ‘Ingenuity’. The rover and helicopter duo are tasked with a couple of scientific research missions. One, is to study Mars’ habitability; It will seek signs of ancient life and also analyze the planet's climate to pave the way for human exploration. Perseverance landed on a 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater, astrobiologists believe it once was filled with water. There, it will collect rock samples and save them inside a storage for return to Earth on a future mission.
The nuclear-powered Perseverance features 7 scientific instruments to analyze terrain. It also features 23 cameras and two microphones. The Ingenuity helicopter is a new experimental technology, NASA will determine if it can perform a controlled flight through the rough Martian environment. If the flight works, Ingenuity will help the Perseverance rover search for locations to study. The helicopter is solar-powered, equipped to provide overhead images with ten times higher resolution of orbital images. Aerial exploration of Mars will provide more data to map the planet’s surface and plan astronauts’ future travel routes. It carries no scientific instruments, only cameras.
Two bots, one selfie. Greetings from Jezero Crater, where I’ve taken my first selfie of the mission. I’m also watching the #MarsHelicopter Ingenuity as it gets ready for its first flight in a few days. Daring mighty things indeed.— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) April 7, 2021
Images: https://t.co/owLX2LaK52 pic.twitter.com/rTxDNK69rs
Just a week ago, the helicopter was released from the bottom of the rover to its designated location. “Mars Helicopter touchdown confirmed! Its 293 million mile (471 million km) journey aboard Perseverance ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 cm) from the rover's belly to the surface of Mars today,” the agency announced on April 3. Today, the agency hosted a press conference to discuss Ingenuity's upcoming flight attempt, linked below.
LIVE🔴— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 9, 2021
Join us as we dive into the details of the #MarsHelicopter. The team is discussing what Ingenuity is doing to prepare for the first flight on Mars. They’re taking your questions now, so drop them in the comments or head over to https://t.co/20wjOJ6L8W to join the chat. pic.twitter.com/7Dd6bSO5YD
NASA announced it is ready to fly the helicopter this weekend! It will be the first-time in history that a helicopter will attempt to fly on the Red Planet. Ingenuity is scheduled to autonomously soar into the Martian sky on Sunday, April 11. UPDATE: NASA Announced Mars Helicopter 1st flight attempt delayed to no earlier than April 14. Data of the helicopter’s flight will arrive to Earth a few hours after midnight. Ingenuity will hover approximately 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground for up to 30 seconds. “If the helicopter flies … as expected, the livestream will show the helicopter team analyzing the first test flight data in Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Space Flight Operations Facility,” the agency stated. The agency will share Live broadcast of the helicopter’s footage and flight data on Monday, April 12 starting at 3:30 a.m. EDT in the video linked below, courtesy of NASA TV [date and time is subject to change]. Mission control specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California expect to receive the first data at around 4:15 a.m. EDT. “While Ingenuity carries no science instruments, the little helicopter is already making its presence felt across the world, as future leaders follow its progress toward an unprecedented first flight,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for Science at NASA Headquarters. “We do tech demos like this to push the envelope of our experience and provide something on which the next missions and the next generation can build. Just as Ingenuity was inspired by the Wright brothers, future explorers will take off using both the data and inspiration from this mission.”
WATCH IT LIVE!
🎶Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle 🎶— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 9, 2021
With just a little bit of swing, the #MarsHelicopter has moved its blades & spun to 50 rpm in preparation for first flight! Takeoff is slated for April 11, with confirmation expected overnight into April 12 for us Earthlings. https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/EpDZymjP13
All Images Source: NASA