Since the Wright brothers first went to Kill & # 39; s skies
Devil Hill, North Carolina, December 17, 1903, the first flights have been important
milestones in the life of any vehicle designed for air travel. After all
One thing to design a plane and make it fly on paper or computer. It is completely different to put all the pieces
together and see them come out of the ground.
At the end of January 2019, all the pieces constitute the flight
model (actual vehicle going to the red planet) of NASA's Mars Helicopter was
With a maximum weight of 4 pounds (1.8 kg)
helicopter is a technology demonstration project currently going through
strict verification process certification it for March.
Most of the aircraft model testing goes
through had to do with demonstrating how it can work on Mars, including how
it performs at Mars-like temperatures. Can helicopters survive ̵
– in cold temperatures, including nights with temperatures as low as minus
130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius)?
All these tests are directed to February 2021, then
helicopter will reach the surface of the red planet, fixed below
the stomach of the Mars 2020 rover. A few months later it will be implemented and test flights
(up to 90 seconds long) will
first from the surface of another world.
"Gearing for the first flight on Mars, we have
logged over 75 minutes of flight time with an engineering model that was one
close approximation of our helicopter, "says MiMi Aung, project manager
to Mars Helicopter at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"But this recent test of the aircraft model was the right deal. This is our helicopter
tied to Mars. We needed to see that it worked as advertised. "
While flying helicopters are common here on Earth, flying
hundreds of millions of kilometers (kilometers) away in the thin martian atmosphere
is something completely different. And create the right conditions for testing here
on earth presents its own set of challenges.
"The Martian atmosphere is only about one percent
Earth's density, "said Aung." Our test flights could have similar
atmospheric density here on earth
– If you raise your airfield up to 100,000 feet (30,480 meters) up. So you can't
go somewhere and find it. You have to do it. "
Aung and her Marshal Command did just that in JPL's Space
Simulator, a 25 foot wide (7.62 meter wide) vacuum chamber. First, the team
created a vacuum that extracts all nitrogen, oxygen and other gases
the air inside the mammoth cylinder. In their place, the team injected carbon
Dioxide, the most important ingredient in Mars & # 39; atmosphere.
"Get our helicopter to an extremely thin
The atmosphere is only part of the challenge, "said Teddy Tzanetos, test
conductor for Mars Helicopter at JPL. "Really simulating flying on
March we have to take away two-thirds of the Earth's gravity because Mars & # 39; gravity
it is much weaker. "
The team did this with a gravity-offload system – a motorized lanyard attached to the top of
The helicopter provides an uninterrupted tug of about two-thirds
Earth's gravity. While the team was understandably concerned about how
The helicopter would fare on its first flight, they were just as concerned about how
gravity offload system would perform.
"Gravity offload system performed perfectly,
like our helicopter, "Tzanetos said. We only required a 2-inch (5 centimeter)
swing to get all the datasets needed to confirm our Mars helicopter
flying autonomously as designed in a thin Mars-like atmosphere; there were none
must go higher. It was a heck of a first flight. "
The first flight of the Marsha Scooter was followed by one
Second in the vacuum chamber the following day. Logging a total sum of one
minute flight time at a height of 2 inches (5 centimeters), more than 1,500
single pieces of carbon fiber, fly-grade aluminum, silicon, copper, foil
and foam has shown that they can work together as a cohesive unit.
"The next time we fly, we fly on Mars," said
Aung. "Seeing our helicopter go through its steps in the chamber, I do
could not help thinking about the historic vehicles that have been in there
currently. Chamber-moon missions from Ranger Moon probes
Voyagers for Cassini and every Mars Rover ever flown. To see our helicopter in
who reminded me that we are about to make a small piece of space history
Mars project Helicopter
at JPL in Pasadena, California, helicopter development manages
Science Mission Directorate at NASA's Washington headquarters.
The marshmalter will start as a technology
protester with Mars
2020 rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in July 2020 from space
Start Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. That's expected
to reach Mars in February 2021.
2020 rover will make geological assessments of the landing site on Mars
Determine the viability of the environment, search for signs of ancient times
Martian life, and assess natural resources and dangers for future people
explorers. Scientists will use the instruments aboard the rover to identify and
Collect specimens of stone and earth, encapsulate them in sealed tubes and let them go
on the planet's surface for potential return to Earth on a future Mars mission.
March 2020 project
at the JPL in Pasadena, California, governs rover development for science
Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. NASA's Launch Services Program, based
at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for the launch
For more information on NASA's Mars missions, visit:
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
NASA Headquarters, Washington