Bhopal: By Hanneke Weitering
NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter launched with the Perseverance rover on July 30.
The first helicopter designed to fly on another planet is now on its way to Mars.
NASA's Mars helicopter, called Ingenuity, is hitching a ride to the Red Planet with the agency's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which lifted off on an Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today (July 30).
Tucked beneath the rover's belly, Ingenuity will spend the next six months en route to Mars. The mission is scheduled to land on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, and within the next few months the rotorcraft will attempt the first-ever flight through another planet's atmosphere.
"We as human beings have never flown or rotorcraft outside of our own Earth's atmosphere, so this will actually be a very much a Wright Brothers moment, except on another planet," Mimi Aung, NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager, said in a news conference on Tuesday (July 28).
While NASA and other space agencies around the world have sent landers, orbiters and rovers to the Red Planet, no one has attempted to fly an aircraft on another planet before. On Mars the atmosphere is much thinner than it is on Earth, which means there's less air to generate lift and more technical challenges in designing a craft that will stay aloft.
"Flying a rotorcraft at Mars is very difficult. First and foremost, the atmosphere there is very thin, about 1% compared to the Earth's atmospheric density here," Aung said. "To build a vehicle that can fly at Mars, it has to be very light and be able to spin very fast."
Ingenuity weighs about 4 lbs. (1.8 kilograms) and has two counter-rotating blades that measure about 4 feet (1.2 meters) long. Those blades should spin at a rate of about 2,400 revolutions per minute, NASA said in Ingenuity's mission description. To test the helicopter, NASA simulated the Martian atmosphere in a testing chamber at the agency's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.
While Ingenuity is only an experimental mission ? its primary objective is to test powered flight on Mars ? a successful flight could shape the future of exploration on Mars.
For robotic missions like the Perseverance rover, helicopters could scout the Martian terrain and help plan driving routes. With that same aerial view, rotorcraft could also be used to study the planet's geology from a different perspective, and they could even help astronauts explore Mars someday, NASA said.
"This Mars helicopter Ingenuity could lead to the opening up of a whole new way to explore space" and to take "exploration missions to the aerial dimension," Aung said.
Email Hanneke Weitering at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @hannekescience.
The first interplanetary helicopter is on its way to Mars
Bhopal: By Hanneke Weitering
- हर हाथ को मिलेगा हुनर : मुख्यमंत्री श्री चौहान
- मध्य प्रदेश में शिवराज की संबल है गरीबों का मंगल : डॉ. मयंक चतुर्वेदी
- अवैध रेत उत्खनन के मामलों में रिपोर्ट देने कमेटी का गठन किया
- सरकारी विभागों में टीडीएस जमा न करने वाले अफसरों से वसूला जायेगा अर्थदण्ड
- मुख्यमंत्री श्री चौहान ने बर्ड फ्लू के प्रति सजग रहने के निर्देश दिये
- नर्मदा को छोड़ अन्य नदियों में मिलेगी मशीनों से रेत उत्खनन की मंजूरी
- प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेंद्र मोदी "अप्रूवल रेटिंग" में दुनिया में नंबर वन
- आदिवासियों पर दर्ज आपराधिक मामले वापस लेने की प्रक्रिया शुरु