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Get ready for the first flight of a NASA Mars helicopter

NASA’s Perseverance astronaut will first undertake the most technologically exciting part of his mission – flying a helicopter – before heading on a business trip to look for signs of Martian bacteria.

Packed under the belly of persistence, a robot-sized vehicle that landed on Mars last month is the “Inventive” 4-pound mini-helicopter that aims to show that it is possible to fly to another planet.

NASA officials announced on Tuesday that they had chosen the location of this foreign floating display just north of the landing.

“That area, of course, has to be flat,” NASA engineer Howard Grip, who serves as Ingenuity’s chief pilot, told a news conference on Tuesday. “There have to be some obstacles, rocks.” etc. that may cause: “Danger to the helicopter during landing.”

The passenger has already passed by that place and will now head back. Stubbornness will carefully let go of ingenuity, then fall back to watch the flights at a distance of about 200 feet. The ingenuity is expected to take off no earlier than April 8, although Inventive chief engineer Bob Balaram said it could move up or back a few days.

“It will take 31 Earth days to try to be the first helicopter to fly another helicopter,” NASA Planetary Science Director Lori Glase said on Tuesday. “It is not designed to collect science, but because its mission is so focused, it is fundamentally innovative.”

Described by NASA officials as the Wright Brothers’ space exploration space, the agency found on Tuesday that the Ingenuity included the artifact of the first Wright plane to fly from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

“We are very proud to have honored this experimental aircraft for a long time, carrying a small piece,” Balaram said. The fabric is the size of a postage stamp, attached to the cable at the bottom of the solar panel.

Until 1997, all spacecraft sent to the surface of Mars landed motionless. But that year, the Pathfinder mission for NASA included something revolutionary: a wheeled robot. The rover was almost like a short storage cabinet, and planetary scientists quickly realized the benefits of moving around the Martian landscape. Since then, four NASA astronauts, including Perseverance, have returned to the red planet.

Ingenuity is essentially Sojourner’s air partner, demonstrating new technology that can be used more widely in future missions. The body of the ingenuity is about the size of a soft ball with four spinning legs. Two sets of blades, each about 4 feet from end to end, will rotate in the opposite direction to create an elevator.

Flying over Mars is no small feat. There is not much air to create an elevator. The atmosphere on the surface of Mars is 1/100 as dense as the Earth’s atmosphere. Less gravity, what you feel here for a third, helps you move through the air. But flying from the surface of Mars is comparable to flying at 100,000 feet above the Earth. No helicopter on our planet has flown so high, it is more than twice the typical flying height of airplanes.

Using a recycling chip comparable to what was found on mobile phones a few years ago, Inventor has 150 times more computing power, with a much larger Perseverance atmosphere.

“It provides the computation needed for many navigation and image processing functions,” Balaram said.

The first flight should be modest up and down, climbing only 10 feet. “And then we soar on the ground for about 30 seconds; we turn by helicopter while we soar,” said Grip. “And then come down and land again.”

Ingenuity will make up to five flights. The first three are designed to test the basic capabilities of the helicopter. The last two flights could have gone farther, but NASA officials did not want to guess how far.

The perfect arrival of Perseverance on February 18 at a 30-mile crater called Mars Jez Ezero, engineers inspect the spacecraft և its tools. This includes launching the first few short carriers և laser fires that evaporate rocks և soil to detect chemical elements.

Two persuasive microphones record some of the red planet’s sounds, including the rustling of the wind and the click of a laser as it falls about 10 feet away.

“Everything is going well so far,” said mission scientist Kenneth Farley during a virtual presentation at the Lunar Science Conference last week. “But this is mainly the cash stage. We are not really doing full science yet. “

Farley said scientists had already noticed signs of wind erosion on some of the rocks. The other rocks seemed to be formed by the flow of water. “This is quite promising for our study,” he said. Scientists also saw rocks with holes in them, which could be volcanic rocks that dropped gas bubbles as they froze.

The main science research will begin in early summer, after completing the ingenuity tests.

Perseverance can not get straight to the edge of the river delta Jez in the middle of the treacherous field of sand dunes, which is in the middle. Instead, it will revolve around sand dunes.

Team members still decide whether to go north, faster, or south, which is more geologically worshiped because it includes mineral deposits that may be remnants of a river delta. Scientists working on Mars with another NASA spacecraft have also announced new discoveries. InSight և its sensitive seismometer data, which track the path of seismic tremors through Mars, suggest that the planet’s core is between 1,125 and 1,155 miles in radius. This is higher than some earlier estimates.

“Such a large nucleus implies a medium-low density of the nucleus,” said Simon Stoller, a seismologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Yurich, in a presentation at the Planetary Science Conference last week.

It shows lighter elements, such as oxygen mixed with iron and sulfur, that make up most of the nucleus, says Stoller. This discovery could later explain how Mars and other rocky planets came into being.

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