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NASA’s Mars copter survives fast night alone in key tests before the flight

NASA’s mini Ingenuity helicopter survived its first night all alone on the surface of Mars after falling from persistence on Saturday. Weathering cool Mars temperatures, the newly utilized rotor craft passed an important test of independence, giving engineers confidence to continue with a series of warm-up drills in preparation for its first weekend flight.

“It was one of the huge, great accomplishments we’ve been looking forward to, and now we can move on to the rest of the mission,” Teddy Tzanetos, head of Ingenuity’s deputy operations, said Monday at a NASA live stream. “And now we are alone. We are a separate spacecraft on Mars on our own energy. ”

The four-pound solar-powered spacecraft arrived on Mars attached to NASA̵

7;s Perseverance rovers belly on 18 February. The rover dropped Ingenuity’s protective cover last month to launch a careful, week-long deployment process that ended last weekend, with Ingenuity’s four landing gear firmly planted on the surface of Mars for the first time. Shortly after, Ingenuity’s 13 megapixel camera snapped its first image of the earth.

Image: NASA / JPL

Endurance returned and kicked out the helicopter’s 31-day clock to perform five flight tests and became the first craft to achieve motor flying in another world. Its first flight is currently scheduled for Sunday, April 11, confirming whether the attempt was successful, and arrived through the Mars-to-Earth data pipeline the next day.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that ingenuity survived Mars’ icy night temperatures of about -130 degrees Fahrenheit Monday morning after the copter sent signals back to Mars Base Station, a communications center aboard Perseverance.

For its first flight test this weekend, Ingenuity rises nearly 10 meters from the surface and hovers into place for about 30 seconds. It will turn while hovering to demonstrate fluid movement, and then begin a gradual descent to a landing. Engineers expect to receive photos of Ingenuity’s hovercraft on the morning of April 12, along with many data about the flight.

Endurance beamed back images of ingenuity shortly after handing it over on the “helicopter plate,” a small space on one side of its runway-shaped flight zone. Subsequent tests in Ingenuity’s 30-day test window include flying as high as 16 feet and zippers forward within the flight zone. The Copter does not carry out scientific missions during his stay on Mars; engineers have stressed that this is only a flow demonstration.

Ingenuity’s double-rotor system, which spans four feet, will rotate in opposite rotations as fast as 2,400 rpm. Minute to gain lift in Mars’ ultra-thin atmosphere.

Despite the small and lightweight design of the copter, it must be fully power independent now that it is detached from the Perseverance power supply. To do this, the craft has a solar panel over its propellers that drives six lithium-ion batteries in its tissue box size, which also houses a computer that is about 100 times more powerful than the endurance one, and small heaters to keep warm through cool March nights.

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