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How to view an Ingenuity helicopter flight on Mars on Wednesday (14)

Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter will make its first flight attempt on the Red Planet early next Wednesday (14), and you will be able to watch it live as the space agency team monitors what promises to be a historical test. The flight was originally scheduled for Monday (12), but is necessary Be delayed Due to changes in vehicle control.

This is the first time that a helicopter has flown over the sky of a planet other than Earth. You can watch the broadcasts on NASA’s YouTube channel, as well as the agency’s channels on The social networking site Facebook And maybe not Twitter.

It is important to note that the current schedule is subject to change “as engineers work on deployments, pre-flight checks, and locating vehicles of perseverance and creativity”, According to NASA. Schedule updates can be monitored on the page Watch online The helicopter.

According to engineer MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Project Manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) team will also assess the wind speed at the Octavia Butler landing site and the amount of energy available in Ingenuity for your flight.

The helicopter has been tested in a wide range of potential wind conditions, said Amelia Kuhn, the test engineer in the creativity room, but there is no perfect way to simulate conditions on Mars. During tests on the ground, a prototype was exposed to winds of between 10 and 11 m / s, which should be stronger than expected inside the Jezero crater.

The Perseverance Wagon, after plugging in the helicopter, will transfer the flight test results to the orbiter, which will in turn transmit the data to the mission controllers on the ground. We should expect 40 seconds of data, because that’s the expected duration of the inaugural test flight, said Tim Canham, Operations Leader for Ingenuity at JPL.

Its versatility is equipped with an inverted camera that takes pictures during flight. The team expects to receive grainy black and white photos initially, followed by high-resolution images in the coming days. When taking pictures 30 times per second, the camera, in addition to recording the flight, will act as a kind of altimeter and assist mission planners in determining the location of the helicopter landing area.

On the soil of Mars, the Chariot of Perseverance, in turn, will attempt to capture images of the test of creativity journey. Elsa Jensen, transmissions leader at Mastcam-Z (the camera the car uses), warned that the images may not be as good, as nothing like this has been tried before and there will definitely be surprises. Interestingly, Canham said that persistence microphones could be used to capture sounds of creativity in-flight during post tests.

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Creativity was unleashed on Mars last weekend, when it separated from the “belly” of perseverance. After launch and independence, the helicopter lives on its own, successfully recharging its batteries using solar panels and communicating with its six-wheeled partner. The helicopter has two sets of anti-rotating blades that have been carefully tuned to maximize support in the rarefied Martian air.

Each ultra-light blade weighs about 35 grams and has a foam core with a carbon fiber cap. The design aims to ensure rigidity, strength and lightness. During the first flight, the Ingenuity fans would spin at a whopping 2537 rpm. The high rate of rotation is related to the Martian atmosphere, which accounts for only 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Ong said that this project would not have been possible 10 or 15 years ago, because only engineers now have the technology to rotate blades at such high speeds, to employ the precise, independent, high-speed controls of the blades in flight, and to design a vehicle capable of withstanding the harsh Martian conditions.

The engineer also noted that dexterity could fall during landing. Since the helicopter cannot straighten, this scenario will definitely end the project. If the flight goes well and the landing is successful, NASA will continue to test the helicopter over the 30 suns, as it is called, on Mars days, equivalent to 30 days on Earth.

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