Ingenuity helicopter has already “slept” alone on Mars

It is a small ultralight helicopter, but in reality it is a big step in aerospace engineering. O Ingenuity was released on Saturday from the womb of Perseverance, which landed on Mars on February 18. Already he felt the first Martian winds and dust.

Before feeding itself, with sunlight reaching the red planet’s soil, the Ingenuity fed on the energy produced by the nuclear generator of the Perseverance. Now it is exclusively dependent on the solar panel installed on top of the propellers, having an internal heating system to withstand the freezing nights of Mars, with temperatures of up to minus 90 degrees Celsius.

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DR

Surviving the first freezing night on Mars was “an important milestone” for the ultra-light helicopter, NASA said in a statement.

“This is the first time that the Ingenuity is alone on the surface of Mars, “said MiMi Aung, responsible for the project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

“Now we have confirmation that it was the right insulation, the right heaters and that there was enough battery power to survive the cold nights, which is a huge success for the team. We are pleased to continue to prepare the Ingenuity for his first flight test, “added Aung.

In the coming days, the small helicopter will undergo engine and sensor tests. O Ingenuity you will have 30 Martian days, or suns (31 Earth days), to conduct the test flight campaign.

If all goes well, the Ingenuity you must make a first test – vertical flight of 30 centimeters – and only later a small flight of a few meters in the vicinity of the place where you are, something that will only happen on Sunday night.

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DR

If the experiment is successful, it will be a real feat, because the Martian air has a density equivalent to only one percent of the Earth’s atmosphere.

It will be the first flight of a motor vehicle on another planet. Composed of four feet, a body and two overlapping propellers, the Ingenuity it weighs only 1.8 kilos and measures 1.2 meters from one end to the other of the blades.

NASA revealed that a small piece of fabric from the Wright brothers’ aircraft, which took off more than a century ago in North Carolina, in the United States, was placed on the Ingenuity as a tribute.

O Perseverance will be placed at an observation point from which you can use your cameras to capture photos of the entire flight of the Ingenuity.

Up to five flights of gradual difficulty are planned by the American space agency over the course of a month.

This type of device may prove crucial, in the future, for the exploration of planets, as it is able to go to places where robots are unable to access, such as canyons.

NASA is also working on another flying device project under the mission Dragonfly (Dragonfly, in Portuguese), which in 2026 will send a drone to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, where it will arrive in 2034.

The first flight experiments on other planets were made with non-motorized devices, recalled NASA, by sending weather balloons to Venus, under the Vega program, in collaboration with the USSR and other countries, such as France.

c / The day after tomorrow

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