Mars has been a challenge to the space agencies that have sent their most advanced technologies there. By the way, Just yesterday we saw the helicopter NASA’s ingenuity in making history. It was the first flying device to fly from the Martian soil. This story is marked by privacy and curiosity, due to the existence of a connection between the Android smartphone and this $ 80 million device.
NASA has chosen a Qualcomm microprocessor, which NASA engineers say is 150 times more powerful than any processor the agency has launched on another planet. Yes, it is also available on smartphones!
People don't realize it, but the smartphones they carry in their pockets are a set of technologies that are or are more powerful than those used by spaceships on their way through the universe. An interesting example is 287 million kilometers from Earth. NASA helicopter deposited by the probe DeterminationHe made history yesterday. Creativity traveled for a few seconds and marked another historic moment in man's exploration of another planet.
Did you know that the small drone, which weighs 1.8 kg and costs 66 million euros, has technology in the brain that anyone can carry in their pocket?
Creating creativity was an incredible challenge
It might seem simplistic to fly a drone and fly on Mars for 40 seconds. However, this was a huge challenge for the creativity team. First of all, the conditions of the red planet's atmosphere have nothing to do with the conditions of the Earth. This is roughly so that we can realize that one of the most important points is to have this ship capable of generating support in the dislocated Martian atmosphere, which is less than 1% density of our planet.
The helicopter has four carbon fiber rotor blades that rotate in opposite directions at 2,400 rpm - approx. Five times faster than conventional helicopters. The 4-foot rotors are powered by six motors, each requiring a technician 100 hours of work under the microscope in the pool.
Power plants generate so much heat that Ingenuity can only fly for 90 seconds before risking melting
Project engineers said.
Another challenge was to give creativity the ability to fly without human control. Remember that The radio signal sent from Earth to Mars takes 16 minutes To arrive there.
So, to fly steadily in the unpredictable gusts of Mars, the Ingenuity computer on board is required. Position the helicopter 500 times per second. Navigation is done through the Earth photos. Always updated and set your way. According to engineers, in all, the The drone program operates on about 800,000 lines of code.
NASA needs a powerful processor
To be used on the drone, the processor had to meet several requirements. As you can see, it should be very small, strong, stable and flexible.
We needed a processor that was very small for weight and size, and also very powerful. The classic processors used in spacecraft, for example, aren't robust or compact enough to do the job for us.
Tim Canham, Operations Director for Innovation at JPL explained.
So NASA chose a microprocessor designed for electronic devices, such as smartphones. Concrete case is Google Nexus 5.
As explained by NASA engineers, these chips are 150 times stronger than any other the agency has launched on another planet. The device manufactured by Qualcomm Inc. , It packs a billion transistors in a compact size chip Silicone comes with popularity An open source operating system called Linux Already installed.
This is the same operating system that supports most of the Internet and many supercomputers out there around the world.
Qualcomm processor inside Ingenuity
This is indeed an unprecedented achievement for a Mars lander, but it is also for the technology that makes it. In fact, the Dave Burke, Google's vice president of engineering The Android administrator, commented on Twitter how the helicopter that NASA sent to Mars was "controlled" by the QCT8974 platform, known by its brand name as Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.
Invincible! Creativity has 4 coaxial rotating feet with a QCT 8974 brain (same chip used on Google Nexus 5). https://t.co/HGrBDjplJa
- Dave Burke (davey_burke) April 19, 2021
In fact, Google Nexus 5 is equipped with a processor Quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. This is the version that equips the Mars drone Snapdragon 801There is one difference that increases the clock frequency.
In the case of the helicopter, the processor is responsible for controlling the navigation algorithm based on the visual cues. The unit also has a 55-megapixel camera.
So, to learn the significance of this feat to the participants, NASA officials compared creativity Wright Brothers Flyer, Which in 1903 made the first controlled flight of engines on Earth. In fact, it was the Wright brothers' 12-second, 36-meter flight that paved the way for airmail. In honor of this trip, Ingenuity holds a sample of Flyer cloth at the bottom of its solar panels.