NASA’s Mars robotic helicopter Ingenuity has surpassed expectations and completed a nearly three-year mission on Mars. Launched in 2021, it was originally designed to conduct up to five experimental flights over a 30-day period.
On January 18, after the 72nd flight, images were sent back to Earth showing that part of the small vortex device’s twin rotor blades had broken off, making it unable to continue operating, NASA said. Officials confirmed this in a press statement earlier this month. The small, autonomous vehicle was attached to the abdomen of the Perseverance rover and transported to Mars. Perseverance was launched in July 2020 and landed on the Red Planet in February 2021.
“That incredible helicopter flew higher and farther than we ever imagined, helping NASA do what we do best: make the impossible possible.” “Through missions like ‘Tee,’ NASA is paving the way for future flights in the solar system and smarter, safer human exploration to Mars and beyond,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement. mentioned in.
Here are five interesting things about the history-making Ingenuity Mars helicopter.
Ingenuity is fitted with four specially made carbon fiber blades, placed on two rotors that rotate in opposite directions at approximately 2,400 rpm. This is significantly faster than a passenger helicopter. During the flight, it was equipped with innovative solar cells, batteries and other components.
The thin atmosphere of Mars makes it difficult to obtain sufficient lift, so it had to be lightweight, weighing only about 1.8 kg. Mars’ atmosphere is 99% less dense than Earth’s, so Ingenuity would have to be significantly larger, with much faster-spinning rotor blades, and lighter than a helicopter of Ingenuity’s mass on Earth. It didn’t happen.
Ingenuity is an experiment, does not carry any scientific instruments to support Perseverance, and is considered a separate mission from the Mars rover. The vehicle was sent to Mars to conduct experimental flight tests to help understand whether powered and controlled flight is possible on Mars. The Perseverance rover was needed to help communicate with Earth.
After its fifth test flight on May 7, 2021, Ingenuity began exploring how aerial reconnaissance and other capabilities could aid future exploration of Mars and other worlds.
Data from the flight was also used to determine how the small helicopter could be used to become a fully self-contained scientific spacecraft carrying an instrument payload. According to NASA, in the distant future, this helicopter could help astronauts explore Mars. In addition, images taken by the helicopter helped the Perseverance spacecraft explore Jezero Crater.
historic first flight
Ingenuity was the first aircraft ever to perform powered, controlled flight on another planet. Interestingly, 117 years after the Wright brothers made their first successful flight, the Ingenuity helicopter achieved a historic feat on another world, NASA announced after the successful flight on April 19, 2021. . The Mars airfield where the flight took place is named in honor of the Wright Brothers’ contributions to aviation.
NASA also revealed that Ingenuity contains a sample of the Wright brothers’ first airplane. This is from the wing of the Wright Brothers’ first airplane, the Flyer, flown in December 1903. The Flyer was the first powered airplane to successfully take off and land.
Ingenuity’s long-term mission lasted nearly 1,000 Martian days, more than 33 times longer than originally planned. During this time, its ability to autonomously select landing sites in extremely difficult terrain was upgraded, it addressed sensor failures, self-cleaned after sandstorms, operated from 48 different airfields, and performed three emergency landings. It even withstood the harsh Martian winter. says NASA on its website.
Named by a high school girl
The name “Ingenuity” was originally proposed for the Mars 2020 rover by Vaneeza Rupani, a high school student from Northport, Alabama, before it was named Perseverance. However, this name was recognized as the perfect choice for her NASA helicopter.
“Thanks to the ingenuity and talent of those working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel, we will all be able to experience the wonders of space exploration,” NASA says on its website. said he wrote in his entry for the “Name the Rover” essay contest.