Soon NASA will be sending its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter aboard the Perseverance Rover to Mars. The first-ever helicopter in another planet will traverse about 505 million kilometers of interplanetary space.
Scheduled for take-off to Mars is the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter that will hitch a ride with the Perseverance Rover. According to Scitech Daily, this is called the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.
MiMi Aung, project manager of the Mars Helicopter, mentioned in Phys Org that designing the whole system was challenging from the ground up.
Ingenuity's instruments are packed into a square body that has all hardware and software to make it work. Other instrumental parts are located outside, especially the 4-foot rotor that have caused the biggest problems because of its massive weight of 4 pounds.
Chris Salvo, the helicopter interface lead, said that the Mars helicopter was the most unique and specific vehicle for any planetary mission. The weight issue is so critical that even just the size of a washer was a big deal.
He added that the helicopter was attached to Perseverance's belly area and if the flight unit will be placed horizontally, there would be enough space.
Launching the Rover
The Ingenuity will not separate from the Perseverance until two months after its entry into Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. Scientists are still searching for a suitable place for an airfield, according to NASA.
On the 2nd month of operation, the rover will release Ingenuity from its protective bay. When the system finally gives the go-signal, the rover will finally be released to wander on its own.
The deployment will involve releasing the locking mechanisms to bring the helicopter into launch. The important part is deploying the legs so it lands the right away on the ground when released.
To accomplish a successful launch, all the system and connection must be connected when it is ready to be released for flight, said David Buecher, deployment system manager at Lockheed Martin Space in Denver.
When the separation is a success, the rover drives away so the copter can charge up its power cells. Soon after, the 30-day sol clock will test the unit.
It will the be first use of drone technology to explore the planet Mars. It will allow access to places never seen before on Mars, but the Ingenuity must prove itself first according to Pasadena Now.
Aerial access to geographic formations is far more accessible compared to a wheeled rover. Aung said the two vehicles are important for this vital task.
Several components like the drone helicopter needed an electronic base station with an antenna to relay real-time or signals from the AI. It took a diverse group of scientists to develop it from the ground up, and if it works well, it will be first of its kind.
Perseverance Mars Rover
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will be the command center for the Ingenuity Helicopter, with Lockheed Martin Space included in the project delivery system. NASA at the Kennedy Space Center will be the one launching the unit.
Perseverance is a robotic rover; whose mission is to find evidence of life on Mars. The unit will collect samples to be studied on Earth. The rover will be leaving Earth from July 20- Aug.11, and reach the Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
Related article: Mars Rover Perseverance Preps for Maiden Launch to Mars on July 17