The SUV The SUV Router, which is set to launch to Mars this week, has a side engine: a pointed four-pound helicopter with four-foot-long rotor blades that weigh at least feathers. He will try to make the first propulsion flight on another planet – a potential game changer in the depths.
If all goes according to plan, the deployment of the helicopter from Stubborn Stubbornness will be an early first step in the Mars 2020 mission after 2021. Initially, a rover’s parachute, a retro rocket and a sky crane will land on the planet’s Jezero crater. Designed solely as a demonstration technology, a rotary aircraft called the Ingenuity will test up to five powered flights in the thin air of Mars, which makes up less than 1percent of the Earth’s atmospheric density.
These trips will take place quickly, each lasting approximately 90 seconds from takeoff to landing. This is all the time until ingenious batteries run out. To push enough air down to lift up, its blade must rotate at about 2,800 rpm – 10 times faster than helicopters on Earth – so each flight will consume about 350 watts of power. Ingenious solar-powered batteries can charge all day on Mars (slightly longer than Earth Day) to recharge from one flight to another. The maximum altitude of the floating vessel will be only about 16 feet, but the conditions it will face will be similar to those experienced on 100,000 feet of land – more than twice as high as the helicopter flew.
Planning for the Mars helicopter began more than six years ago in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) autonomous systems division, which is exploring a new generation of space exploration capabilities. The team, led by engineer MiMi Aung, was challenged to create a flying vehicle that would operate on the Red Planet.
If successful, the aircraft could transport scientific instruments to places where rovers and landings cannot fly, such as open ice shards on rocky sides or steep crater walls. The aircraft could inspect the attic cameras to detect future routes – and one day astronauts. If you did, you would get far more detailed images than those available from current orbit images, which can solve Mars features up to about three feet. “Imagine you have accuracy at the centimeter level, [or about half-inch-precision], a description and description of possible travel destinations, ”says Aung.
The concepts of the future include a swarm of flying and cooperating craft, or a larger flight vehicle that could travel independently from place to place, allowing a new type to explore the world. JPL is investigating potential Mars helicopters weighing up to 33 pounds capable of carrying payloads of up to about 3.3 pounds. NASA is also funding a much more ambitious helicopter mission called Dragonfly to explore the rich organic chemistry in Saturn’s largest titanium. The atmosphere of the natural satellite is dense, followed by a dense hydrocarbon atmosphere in the lakes and seas of liquid methane, as well as the watery underground ocean, making it a frustrating world in search of life beyond Earth.
“What has really changed in the last few years is the drone revolution – how much has been achieved in drone and autonomous flight technology,” said Elizabeth Turtle, a planetary scientist and dragon researcher at Johns Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “When we looked at the architecture of the mission, which made sense to look around Titan, we realized that we really have all these possibilities now.”
However, it must first be proven that a flight to Mars is possible. That is the sole purpose of the $ 85 million ingenuity mission.
The helicopter is slightly larger than a softball, minus its four carbon fiber blades that rotate on two opposite rotation rotors and sit on four legs, each 15 inches long. It features retail avionics and communications equipment, a navigation camera, a separate solar panel and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, as well as heaters to keep the electronics warm during the cold night of Mars. There are no scientific devices on the plane; just a high resolution color display.
The design of the helicopter required innovations in all areas of space engineering – thermal, mechanical, structural, power, materials and so on. “We had to remove all boundaries,” says Aung. “We used to have our own chassis … and our own computer for each subsystem. The first challenge was to combine it all, and then to harmonize the aviation aspect, to complicate the whole system with such light weight …. That’s what made it really fun and interesting. “
The ingenuity will travel to Mars attached to the Perseverance rover, and behind the shield to protect it from debris that may be shattered as the crane of the sky descends to the surface of the planet. The launch is scheduled for July 30th. 7: 50-9: 50 AM (EDT) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Perseverance is expected to land on Mars in 2021. February 18
As the rover begins to disseminate data that will allow scientists to estimate the landing site of Lake Crater, NASA’s fifth and most ambitious Martian rover, Aung and her team will look to make the flat area 33-33 feet an experimental aerodrome. ingenuity test flights scheduled to begin in May.
Ingenuity will not be the first spaceship to soar through the atmosphere of another planet. This difference is attributed to a pair of balloons which, in 1985, He flew through the skies of Venus, collecting weather data as part of the Soviet-era Vega missions. But ingenuity will test the first propulsion flight to another world, the moment of the Wright Brothers in the 21st century.
When dropped from a helicopter, perseverance recedes by at least 100 yards – far enough away to avoid an accident if ingenuity breaks down, but still close enough to radio. A maximum of five flights will be conducted over the 30-day interval of Mars, after which the rover will turn its primary mission: to assess the suitability of the Lake Crater and preserve the accumulation of rock and soil samples that may contain microfilm or other evidence of the past. microbial life.
In the final test, ingenuity could fly up to 150 feet, perhaps reaching its modest maximum altitude before returning to the takeoff point. “Because it’s a wayfinder, we don’t have a hazard detection and avoidance system,” says Aung. “This would be necessary for future helicopters, because just before landing you would like the 3D digital altitude map to be able to break and avoid any danger.”
The most important test of the flight to Mars will be the first to replicate previous tests in a 25-foot-diameter JPL vacuum chamber. “We take off, take off the plane, make a small side flight, come back and land,” says Aung. “It’s extremely important because it validates all of our models – all the tests we’ve done on Earth.”
After this journey, the ingenuity of the flights should be a little bolder, with the rotor plane flying higher and then sideways further before returning to land. “The aviation community has said that the only thing more interesting than taking off on your plane is landing it again,” says Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot. “I think that’s the case here.”
Ingenuity is one of the three demonstrations of technology planned for the Mars 2020 mission. The second is an autonomous hazard avoidance navigation system that perseverance will use to descend to the 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater. And the third is an instrument called the Mars Oxygen Response Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), which will try to convert carbon dioxide emitted from the atmosphere into oxygen, which is the source of potential future human missions to Mars.