“NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has emerged from its first night on the surface of Mars,” reports NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was deployed from the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover on April 3rd. In the days to come, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet. From the report: Evening temperatures at Jezero Crater can plunge as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), which can freeze and crack unprotected electrical components and damage the onboard batteries required for flight. “This is the first time that Ingenuity has been on its own on the surface of Mars,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “But we now have confirmation that we have the right insulation, the right heaters, and enough energy in its battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win for the team. We’re excited to continue to prepare Ingenuity for its first flight test.”
To ensure the solar array atop the helicopter’s rotors could begin getting sunlight as soon as possible, Perseverance was instructed to move away from Ingenuity shortly after deploying it. Until the helicopter put its four legs onto the Martian surface, Ingenuity remained attached to the belly of the rover, receiving power from Perseverance, which touched down at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. The rover serves as a communications relay between Ingenuity and Earth, and it will use its suite of cameras to observe the flight characteristics of the solar-powered helicopter from “Van Zyl Overlook.”
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