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NASA has great news for this brave Mars helicopter

NASA has great news for this brave Mars helicopter

NASA’s Mars Creativity Helicopter History made in April 2021 When it became the first aircraft to achieve powered and controlled flight on another planet.

Because Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner than Earth’s, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) weren’t sure they could build a lift-able machine on the Red Planet, yet make a machine that could fly reliably. But with its long, fast-spinning blades, the versatility exceeded expectations, flying long distances on multiple flights.

Since its first flight, the 4-pound 19-inch helicopter has completed an additional 20 flights, reaching 625 meters in a single flight, reaching altitudes of up to 12 meters and soaring over the surface of Mars at even higher speeds. to 5 meters per second.

While the innovation shows no signs of mechanical waning, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has just announced that it will extend the brave helicopter’s flights into September, a remarkable progress that puts it on track to “set more records,” the team said.

JPL recently made several modifications to the Ingenuity flight program that will now allow it to fly higher as well as change gears while in flight. JPL said future software updates could include adding terrain elevation maps in the navigation filter and the ability to avoid landing hazards.

Looking ahead, JPL says the new Ingenuity area of ​​operations will be “very different from the modest, relatively flat terrain it has flown over since its maiden flight last April”.

This means that in the coming months, the aircraft will encounter an ancient river delta at Jezero Crater, using its onboard camera to identify areas of interest that NASA’s Perseverance spacecraft can explore for evidence of past microbial life on a distant crater planet.

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“Several miles wide and shaped by an ancient river, the fan-shaped delta rises more than 130 feet (40 meters) above the crater floor,” JPL said. Filled with jagged cliffs, sloping surfaces, jutting boulders, and pockets of sand that could stop a rover in its tracks (or bring down a landing helicopter), Delta promises many geological discoveries—and may even be the evidence needed to determine that microscopic life once existed on a planet. Mars billions of years ago.

Commenting on the creativity’s success, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said, shown“Less than a year ago, we didn’t even know if it was possible to fly a powered and controlled aircraft to the surface of Mars. We are now looking forward to Ingenuity’s participation in the second Scientific Perseverance campaign. Such a mental shift in such a short time is incredible and one One of the most historical events in the annals of air and space exploration.

However, not all was smooth sailing for Ingenuity, with JPL engineers advancing from the distance. Solve a series of technical problems Experienced by unmanned flying machine. However, overcoming the problems so far is evidence of Ingenuity’s amazing design and gives JPL a lot of hope as it studies more advanced aircraft designs for future missions to Mars.

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