NASA experts discussed a new era in space exploration on Monday after the success of spaceflight with the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, which could set the stage for flying in other worlds.
In a live discussion streamed on YouTube from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, Ingenuity pilot Johnny Lam said the helicopter can enter areas that other space robots or devices cannot.
“I think with the success of ingenuity, we basically locked an air dimension into exploration,” he said. “We can kind of reach some hard-to-reach areas, we can deliver images, reconnaissance … the best way to cross.”
NASA MARCH HELICOPTER ̵
“Ultimately, all of these things can also help with human exploration on Mars or other planets,” he added.
The space agency constructed its fourth Ingenuity flight on Mars last week. The four-pound spacecraft flew 436 feet south to collect aerial images of a possible new landing zone.
The next flight would be a one-way trip to a new landing site. The helicopter will eventually try to fly with Preservance Rover to test how it works as a scout.
“The mission will provide inspiration,” said Nishant Mehta, deputy head of NASA’s Dragonfly mobility system, from Maryland. “They will strive for future ideas for planetary exploration and will certainly push our boundaries even further.”
Dragonfly is NASA’s mission to deliver rotorplanes to Titan, Saturn’s moon, to look for signs of life. Its launch is scheduled for 2027. The machine is equipped with cameras.
The navigation cameras capture an image per second, which is not “very often,” Mehta said.
“We spend a lot of time optimizing what data we want to bring down and working with researchers to find out what’s most interesting,” he said.
Ingenuity has two cameras but no video features, Lam said.
The biggest challenge for ingenuity is takeoff and landing, he added. To get it off the ground, a large amount of propulsion is applied to get ingenuity to the desired height. For landing, the helicopter drops by 1 meter per second, he said.
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Nishant said one of the biggest challenges for Dragonfly Mission will be the temperature on the surface of Titan, which could drop to minus 300 degrees, he said.
“Designing a lander that can survive these temperatures and operate at these temperatures is a challenge,” he said.
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.