Wednesday, September 22

NASA delays Ingenuity flight over Mars

The small helicopter weighs just 1.8 kilos.

The small helicopter weighs just 1.8 kilos.

The takeoff of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter from the Jezero crater of Mars, which would be the first attempt at powered flight on another planet, has been rescheduled “for no earlier than April 14,” the NASA Propulsion Laboratory (JPL, for its acronym in English).

While the takeoff was initially scheduled for this Sunday, April 11, the US space agency announced the delay in a statement.

“According to the data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived on Friday night, NASA decided to reschedule the first experimental flight of the helicopter … for no earlier than April 14,” said the JPL, based in California and in charge of a project that has been compared to the feat of the Wright brothers, the pioneers of aviation on Earth.

According to the statement, there was a failure during a high-speed turning test of the rotors of the small aircraft, which left Florida (USA) in July 2020 attached to the belly of the Persevererance rover.

The space agency had scheduled the Ingenuity Mars to take off this Sunday at 12:30 pm “local solar time on Mars” (10.54 pm EDT on Earth). “The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the problem. After that, they will reschedule the test at full speed, “the lab said in the statement.

The 1.8 kilogram soccer ball-sized Ingenuity has built-in cameras and a microphone to document the flight from your perspective.

Although the flight will be autonomous, the signals that the aircraft will receive come from JPL in California. From there they will send general commands on elevation and acceleration, among others, which are just parameters for Ingenuity to manage its own flight.

Those signals also go first to the Perseverance rover, and this vehicle sends them to the helicopter and then they repeat the operation in reverse to arrive with the response to Earth.

It will take 15 minutes and 27 seconds for radio signals to close the 278 million kilometer gap between Mars and Earth, in part because “almost everything about the Red Planet is complicated,” according to NASA. The helicopter must remain “floating “about 30 seconds, NASA specified.

“When we reach 10 feet (3 meters), Ingenuity will enter a hover that should last, if all goes well, about 30 seconds,” explained in a previous statement specialist Håvard Grip, in charge of flight control of Ingenuity in The laboratory.

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