Nasa’s Ingenuity helicopter makes a second flight to Mars


Two flights completed by the Ingenuity helicopter

The American space agency has completed its second helicopter flight on Mars.

The small ingenuity drone hovered 5 meters above the ground, tilted and moved 2 meters laterally, then flipped back to where it took off.

Nasa wants each successive outing to raise the ante in order for the little chopper to fly higher, farther, and faster.

On Monday, Ingenuity made history by performing the first powered and controlled flight in another world.

Anyway, this was a great week for the space agency to successfully demonstrate how to make oxygen (O2) from the carbon dioxide (CO2) atmosphere on Mars.

A device called Moxie was able to generate 5g of O2. This is enough gas for an astronaut on the Red Planet to breathe for 10 minutes.

Nasa’s idea is that future manned Mars missions will bring a scaled-up version of Moxy to Mars rather than trying to bring all the oxygen needed to sustain them from Earth. is.

O₂ generator and helicopter are tech demonstrations. They landed on the planet Jezero Crater by Perseverance Rover in mid-February. Perseverance Rover will soon begin its main mission of looking for signs of ancient life.

Graphic showing the ingenuity of Nasa's Mars helicopter

Graphic showing the ingenuity of Nasa’s Mars helicopter

The latest Ingenuity flights have become more complex since Monday. For its first sortie, the chopper climbed only 2 meters, hovered and landed.

The purpose of Thursday was to introduce horizontal movement. To achieve this, the drone was tilted 5 degrees so that some of the thrust from the rotor turned sideways.

“The helicopter stopped, hovered in place, and turned to point the camera in different directions,” said Hooverd Grip, Chief Pilot of Ingenuity. “Then I returned to the center of the’airfield’to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns about how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here-to let you know these unknowns. “

The main difficulty in flying in the air on the Red Planet is the very thin atmosphere, which is only 1% of the density of the Earth here. This almost eliminates the rotor blades biting to generate lift.

Despite the help from Mars’ low gravity, it still takes a lot of work to get up from the ground.

This made the ingenuity very light and gave them the power to rotate these blades at a very high speed of over 2,500 revolutions per minute.

Control must also be autonomous. The distance to Mars (currently just under 300 million kilometers) means that it takes 16 minutes to pass through the space where the radio signal intervenes. Flying with a joystick is out of the question.

Nasa has allowed the Ingenuity engineering team three more flights over the next 12 days. These could see the drone move hundreds of meters on the surface of Mars.

Shadow of helicopter

Ingenuity snatched this photo of the shadow of the ground

Further testing is carried out by the team behind Moxie (an in-situ resource utilization experiment of Martian oxygen).

This toaster-sized device on the belly of the Perseverance Rover also first posted an exploration by drawing O₂ from the Martian air.

The planet’s atmosphere is dominated by 96% carbon dioxide. Oxygen is only 0.13% compared to 21% in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Moxie can remove oxygen atoms from CO2 molecules, which are composed of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. The waste is carbon monoxide, which is released into the atmosphere of Mars.

The Moxie team is running the unit in different modes to see how well the unit is working.

It is expected to produce up to 10 grams of O2 per hour.

Next-generation versions of generators are believed to have the potential to produce large amounts of gas for both breathing and rocket use.

Thrust is achieved by burning the fuel in the presence of an oxidizer, which may be simple oxygen.

But carrying tons of oxygen from Earth to Mars can be a daunting task. It makes more sense to try to put it in place.

“Moxie is not only the first device to generate oxygen in another world, but it also uses other world’s environmental elements, also known as in-situ resource utilization, to make future missions” from land. ” This is the first technique of this kind that helps to “live apart.” “Toldi Cortez, director of technology demonstrations within Nasa’s Space Technology Mission, said.

“Take the regolith, a substance found on the ground, and pass it through a processing plant to make it larger, or take in most of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, and convert it to oxygen. This process allows you to: It will be possible to convert these abundant materials into usable ones: propellant, breathable air, or water in combination with hydrogen. “

Jezero Crater

Jezero Crater