Flying Of Small Helicopter On Mars
Mars-Copter Was Able to Fly For 40 Seconds At 3m From Surface with Reduced Density Atmosphere
The space agency of America, NASA, has been successfully able to fly a small-sized helicopter on Mars. The drone, names Ingenuity, had been airborne for the time duration of less than one minute inside the atmosphere of Mars. It has become a historic celebratory event as, according to NASA, they have been able to achieve the world’s first powered and controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet by flying the drone helicopter on Mars.
The confirmation of the events was received on Earth via satellite transmission at Mars, which was able to relay the flight data of the airborne helicopter on Mars back to Earth. NASA has promised to provide details regarding further exploratory flights which they have scheduled to occur in the upcoming future.
The flying helicopter on Mars, Ingenuity, is expected to be commanded for a flight at a higher altitude than the previous one as the team of engineers working on this project are seeking to test the limitations for the technology used in the drone.
Perseverance Rover by NASA
The rotorcraft was originally carried to the surface of Mars inside the belly of the Perseverance Rover by NASA sent this year for an exploratory mission on the Red Planet. The Perseverance Rover was able to touchdown on Mars in the month of February in the Jezero Crater and had been doing observatory reconnaissance drives on the nearby areas of the touchdown location.
The project manager for the Ingenuity drone at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA located in Pasadena, California; MiMi Aung, state that after this successful flight of a helicopter on Mars, we can proudly say that the human being has been able to fly a rotorcraft on another planet inside our solar system other than Earth.
The small but significant flight by a helicopter on Mars is similar to that of the ‘Wright Brothers moment’ but on Mars. This reference given by the project manager MiMi Aung is about the two brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright, who were able to successfully conduct the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on the planet Earth in the year 1903, providing the first step towards the production of aircraft used nowadays.
The Ingenuity drone carried a small fabric swatch that was taken from one wing of the Flyer 1, the aircraft which was able to make history during the historic flight, which occurred more than 117 years ago at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Successful flight on Mars
As soon as the first photos of the successful flight of the helicopter on Mars arrived back on Earth, the entire control center of JPL erupted in cheers. In the background to the cheering noise, MiMi Aung was audible, saying that ‘It’s real’.
As she received praise for her continuous efforts for the cause, she tore the written contingency speech she had prepared to be used in case the helicopter on Mars sent alongside the Perseverance Rover would be unable to have a proper flight.
According to the video footage received of the events that occurred during the small flight, the Mars-copter was able to rise above the surface to around 3 meters, hover, then swivel and land. The total flying time of the helicopter on Mars was around 40 seconds, from take-off to landing.
Being able to get airborne on Mars is not an easy task. The atmosphere throughout the planet is very thin and has only 1% density from what is found on Earth. This does not allow the rotors of the drone to have something to bite for being able to gain lift from the surface.
Although the reduced amount of gravity does help on Mars, it does require massive work to be able to have lift-off on Mars.
Due to these reasons, the materials used for the development of the Ingenuity drone were extremely light in weight while giving them additional power support to be able to turn the rotor blades at an extremely fast speed. During this particular flight by the helicopter on Mars, the rotors were able to achieve over 2,500 revolutions per minute.
The controlling of the rotorcraft was autonomous. The distance between Earth and Mars, which is currently recorded to be under 300 million kilometers, signifies that the radio signals over such long-distance would require at least a minute to transverse. Flying the drone with the help of a joystick was simply out of the question in this scenario.
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