NASA engineers leading the Perseverance rover mission to Mars have reported that the small helicopter named Ingenuity, which traveled as a companion to the rover, was successfully deployed to the Martian surface as planned, and has survived its first frigid night without the rover's protection.
Illustration of Ingenuity landed on the surface of Mars. Source: Wikipedia.com.
After several maneuvers, the helicopter was finally deployed on April 4. These maneuvers included from releasing the fasteners that kept it attached to the rover's body, the deployment of its landing gear, to its positioning on the Martian soil by means of an arm provided for this purpose on the rover. After completing these steps, the Perseverance rover moved away from the helicopter.
The first tough test for Ingenuity would be to survive its first night alone on the red planet, where its cold nights can reach temperatures of -90 °C, which would undoubtedly represent a tough test for the electronics of this small drone, as its components could crack or damage its batteries.
Before it was fully released, the helicopter charged its batteries using the rover as a power source, but from now on it should prove that it can recharge them autonomously using its own solar panels.
This photo shows the Ingenuity helicopter in a close-up shot taken by the Perseverance rover's Mastcam-Z camera. This image was taken on April 5, the 45th Martian day of the mission." Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU.
Now the Ingenuity helicopter will have to fend for itself and survive several nights while engineers test temperatures, conditions and battery performance over the next few days. If all goes well, the next step will be to release the rotor blades, test the engines and sensors, and prepare everything for flight testing; something that will consist of taking off, flying for 20 to 30 seconds and landing again, something that keeps everyone in suspense since, as already mentioned, flying an aircraft on Mars is very different from flying it on our planet.
If all preparations are completed successfully, the first flight of a terrestrial aircraft on Mars could happen now, not before April 11. We will certainly be watching for this historic moment.
Thanks for coming by to read friends, I hope you liked the information. See you next time.