The US space agency published a notification on Twitter that Ingenuity had already separated from Perseverance, and that it took the 10 cm “leap” from its host’s belly to the surface of the planet. The flight schedule was also adjusted, which could never have been before April 8, passing that date to a start from the 11th. The next step is a kind of “all or nothing”: survival of the cold night of Mars.
As I explained earlier, overnight temperatures can drop to minus 90 degrees Celsius, enough to freeze and crack any unprotected electrical components. So, to survive, you must have enough energy to power your internal heaters. Bob Balaram, chief engineer of the Ingenuity project, had previously said that being able to free the helicopter on the surface would be a big challenge, but being able to survive the first night on Mars alone, without the protection of the rover and staying powered, would be even greater.
After separating the rover, Ingenuity entered what is the “no return” process, with all the coordinated and irreversible activities that depend on each other. When NASA says that the helicopter will not fly before April 11, it is due to a lengthy 6-day process to complete all of its stages. In the first, the mechanism that held the helicopter to the rover was unlocked. Now the device is placed in position and then the opening of its four landing legs, gradually over the days.
When the flight begins, the Ingenuity journey will last 30 days, with the team on Earth giving instructions to the rover, who in turn passes them on to his flying companion.
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