Topic: NASA’s Mars Helicopter
Washington, D.C. – When NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars on February 18th, 2021, it will be carrying a small but mighty passenger: Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter.
The helicopter, which weighs about 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) on Earth and has a fuselage about the size of a tissue box, started out six years ago as an implausible prospect. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California knew it was theoretically possible to fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere, but no one was sure whether they could build a vehicle powerful enough to fly, communicate, and survive autonomously with the extreme restrictions on its mass.
Pasadena, CA – A microphone aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has recorded the sounds of the spacecraft as it hurtles through interplanetary space.
While another mic aboard the rover is intended specifically to listen for the laser zaps of the SuperCam instrument, this one is devoted to capturing some or all of the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) sequence – from the firing of the mortar that releases the parachute to the Mars landing engines kicking in to the rover wheels crunching down onto the surface.
Data for the 60-second audio file was collected on October 19th during an in-flight checkout of the camera and microphone system that will pick up some of the landing drama at Mars’ Jezero Crater early next year.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission has logged a lot of flight miles since being lofted skyward on July 30th – 146.3 million miles (235.4 million kilometers) to be exact. Turns out that is exactly the same distance it has to go before the spacecraft hits the Red Planet’s atmosphere like a 11,900 mph (19,000 kph) freight train on February 18th, 2021.
“At 1:40pm Pacific Time today, our spacecraft will have just as many miles in its metaphorical rearview mirror as it will out its metaphorical windshield,” said Julie Kangas, a navigator working on the Perseverance rover mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter received a checkout and recharge of its power system on Friday, August 7th, 2020, one week into its near seven-month journey to Mars with the Perseverance rover. This marks the first time the helicopter has been powered up and its batteries have been charged in the space environment.
During the eight-hour operation, the performance of the rotorcraft’s six lithium-ion batteries was analyzed as the team brought their charge level up to 35%. The project has determined a low charge state is optimal for battery health during the cruise to Mars.
Pasadena, CA – While auto manufacturers built over 92 million motor vehicles for this world in 2019, NASA built just one for Mars. The Perseverance Mars rover is one of a kind, and the testing required to get it ready to roll on the mean (and unpaved) streets of the Red Planet is one of a kind as well.
Because hardware cannot be repaired once the rover is on Mars, the team has to build a vehicle that can survive for years on a planet with punishing temperature shifts, constant radiation and ever-present dust.
The latest activities at the Florida spaceport included attaching the aeroshell backshell on April 29th and attaching the rover to its rocket-powered descent stage on April 23rd inside the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The rover and descent stage were the first spacecraft components to come together for launch — and they will be the last to separate when the spacecraft reaches Mars on February 18th, 2021.
Washington, D.C. – Destined to become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet, NASA’s Mars Helicopter officially has received a new name: Ingenuity.
Vaneeza Rupani, a junior at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, came up with the name and the motivation behind it during NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.
“The ingenuity and brilliance of people working hard to overcome the challenges of interplanetary travel are what allow us all to experience the wonders of space exploration,” Rupani wrote in her contest submission. “Ingenuity is what allows people to accomplish amazing things, and it allows us to expand our horizons to the edges of the universe.”
Pasadena, CA – With the launch period of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover opening in 14 weeks, final preparations of the spacecraft continue at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In the past week, the assembly, test and launch operations team completed important milestones, fueling the descent stage – also known as the sky crane – and attaching the Mars Helicopter, which will be the first aircraft in history to attempt power-controlled flight on another planet.
Over the weekend, 884 pounds (401 kilograms) of hydrazine monopropellant were loaded into the descent stage’s four fuel tanks.
Pasadena, CA – The NASA Mars Helicopter is riding to the Red Planet this summer with NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover. The helicopter’s chief engineer, Bob Balaram, shares the saga of how it came into being.
Even before this interviewer can finish the question, “Did anyone ever tell you this was a crazy idea?” Bob Balaram jumps in: “Everyone. All the time.”
Pasadena, CA – As NASA pushes the frontiers of science and human exploration, the agency also advances technology to modernize life on Earth, including drones, self-driving cars and other innovations.
NASA’s diverse missions spur the creation and improvement of thousands of new products that make life better for people around the world. Dozens of the latest examples are featured in the newest edition of NASA’s Spinoff publication, including several from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and many illustrating how NASA is working to shape the coming revolution of autonomous vehicles on the roads and in the air.
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