Now that NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has achieved the aim of attaining powered, managed flight of an plane on the Purple Planet, and with information from its most latest flight check, on April 25, the expertise demonstration venture has met or surpassed all of its technical goals. The Ingenuity staff now will push its efficiency envelope on Mars.
The fourth Ingenuity flight from Wright Brothers Subject, the title for the Martian airfield on which the flight occurred, is scheduled to take off Thursday, April 29, at 10:12 a.m. EDT (7:12 a.m. PDT, 12:30 p.m. native Mars time), with the primary information anticipated again at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 1:21 p.m. EDT (10:21 a.m. PDT).
“From hundreds of thousands of miles away, Ingenuity checked all of the technical packing containers we had at NASA about the opportunity of powered, managed flight on the Purple Planet,” mentioned Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Future Mars exploration missions can now confidently think about the added functionality an aerial exploration could carry to a science mission.”
The Ingenuity staff had three goals to perform to declare the expertise demo a whole success: They accomplished the primary goal about six years in the past when the staff demonstrated within the 25-foot-diameter area simulator chamber of JPL that powered, managed flight within the skinny ambiance of Mars was greater than a theoretical train. The second goal – to fly on Mars – was met when Ingenuity flew for the first time on April 19. The staff surpassed the final main goal with the third flight, when Ingenuity rose 16 toes (5 meters), flying downrange 164 toes (50 meters) and again at a high pace of 6.6 toes per second (2 meters per second), augmenting the wealthy assortment of data the staff has gained throughout its check flight marketing campaign.
“When Ingenuity’s touchdown legs touched down after that third flight, we knew we had accrued greater than sufficient information to assist engineers design future generations of Mars helicopters,” mentioned J. “Bob” Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer at JPL. “Now we plan to increase our vary, pace, and length to realize additional efficiency perception.”
Flight 4 units out to exhibit the potential worth of that aerial perspective. The flight check will start with Ingenuity climbing to an altitude of 16 toes (5 meters) after which heading south, flying over rocks, sand ripples, and small affect craters for 276 toes (84 meters). Because it flies, the rotorcraft will use its downward-looking navigation digicam to gather photos of the floor each 4 toes (1.2 meters) from that time till it travels a complete of 436 toes (133 meters) downrange. Then, Ingenuity will go right into a hover and take photos with its coloration digicam earlier than heading again to Wright Brothers Subject.
“To attain the space crucial for this scouting flight, we’re going to interrupt our personal Mars information set throughout flight three,” mentioned Johnny Lam, backup pilot for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL. “We’re upping the time airborne from 80 seconds to 117, rising our max airspeed from 2 meters per second to three.5 (4.5 mph to eight), and greater than doubling our whole vary.”
After receiving the information from the fourth flight, the Ingenuity staff will think about its plan for the fifth flight.
“We now have been kicking round a number of choices concerning what a flight 5 might seem like,” mentioned Balaram. “However ask me about what they entail after a profitable flight 4. The staff stays dedicated to constructing our flight expertise one step at a time.”
Extra About Ingenuity
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was constructed by JPL, which additionally manages the expertise demonstration venture for NASA Headquarters. It’s supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Analysis, and House Know-how mission directorates. NASA’s Ames Analysis Heart in California’s Silicon Valley, and NASA’s Langley Analysis Heart in Hampton, Virginia, offered important flight efficiency evaluation and technical help throughout Ingenuity’s growth. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero additionally offered design help and main automobile elements. Lockheed Martin House designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Supply System.