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NASA’s ingenious mini-helicopter survives the first night alone on the fast surface of Mars, the US space agency hailed as a major milestone for small craft as it prepares for its first flight.
The Ultra Light plane was released to the surface on Saturday after being detached from the stomach of the Perseverance Rover that touched down on the Red Planet on February 18th.
Separated from diligence, the ingenuity had to rely on its own solar-powered battery to protect its unprotected electrical components from freezing and cracking on a bitter Tuesday night, with temperatures minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius).
NASA said in a statement on Monday that building it through a fast-paced Tuesday night was “a major milestone for the small rotorcraft”.
“This is the first time there has been intelligence on the surface of Mars,” said Mimi Ang, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Intelligence Project Manager.
“But we have now confirmed that we have the right insulation, the right heaters and enough energy in the right battle to survive the cold night. This is a huge success for the team.
In the coming days, the ingenuity will be tested on its rotor blades and motors.
If all goes well, Ingenuity is expected to make its first flight attempt before the evening of April 11, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
It was the first aircraft to attempt a controlled flight, operating on another planet.
– Tribute to the Wright Brothers –
To pay homage to the milestone, Kitty Hawk ingeniously carries a small piece of cloth covering one of the wings of the Wright brothers’ first aircraft that reached the first running ground on Earth in 1903.
April 12, 1961 coincides with the 60th anniversary of Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s first human spaceflight and April 12, 1981, the 40th anniversary of Colombia’s first space shuttle.
Intelligence will try to fly one percent of the Earth’s density into the atmosphere, making it difficult to reach the lift – but it will be helped by the gravitational pull of one-third of our planet.
The first plane climbs to an altitude of 10 feet (three meters) at a rate of about three feet (one meter) per second, orbits there for 30 seconds, and then descends to the surface again.
Ingenuity will take a high-resolution photo while flying “from the airport” in the Jessero abyss.
Continuous flights are planned for its journey to 30 Mars (31 Earth days).
“Our 30-Soul Test Schedule is loaded with exciting milestones,” said Teddy Janetos, leader of Ingenious Supplements.
“Whatever the future holds, we will get all the flight data we can within that timeframe.”
The four-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft cost about $ 85 million to build NASA, and is considered evidence of a revolutionary concept in space exploration.
Future planes could cover the ground much faster than rovers, and explore rough terrain.
© 2021 AFP