(CNN) – NASA’s Innovative Helicopter, Associate and Travel Attendant reported well and “is operating as expected,” according to the agency.
If successful, said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Ingenuity would be the first helicopter to fly over another planet, leading to “an extraterrestrial moment from the Wright Brothers.”
The spacecraft landed safely on Mars on Thursday after being launched from Earth on July 30. Perseverance has already provided an impressive array of photos to show you are safe and ready to go through the “verification” phase before beginning your journey across the surface.
Now, the mission team heard it directly from the helicopter for the first time, and that’s good news.
Prowess is now hidden under the rover and anchored in the belly of perseverance. A rover is roughly the size of a pickup truck, while a helicopter weighs only about 2 kg.
The helicopter was able to communicate with the home via the rover by sending data via NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been serving as a transmitter for communications between Mars and Earth and orbiting the Red Planet since 2006.
The creativity feels comfortable in its place and won’t drop the rover anytime soon on a test flight. The helicopter will stay comfortable with the rover for 30 to 60 days.
“The creativity, the Mars helicopter that I own, is working as expected. I am currently charging it, but once I drop it, it will only rely on solar panels. If it survives very cold Mars nights, the team will try to fly,” said a tweet on the Perseverance account on Twitter.
Creativity, the Mars helicopter I’m carrying, works as expected. I am currently charging it but once i set it up it will only rely on solar panels. If it survives very cold Mars nights, the team will attempt to fly. https://t.co/8pksN06ZwP #CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/80kEoww0QU
NASA’s Mars probe (NASAPersevere) February 20, 2021
“There are two important elements we’re looking for in the data: the charge of the Ingenuity batteries, plus the assurance that the base station is operating as designed, and directing the heaters to turn them off and on to keep electronics,” said Tim Cannham, lead operations officer for Ingenuity helicopter on Mars at the affiliated JPL “The helicopter is within the expected range,” said NASA (JPL) in a statement.
Both seem to be working very well. With this positive report we will go ahead (Saturday) charging the helicopter batteries.
Creativity needs to turn on and store energy in order to stay warm and maintain other vital functions during cold Mars nights once you place the Rovers on the surface of the Red Planet. Then creativity will be on its own.
And it will have to endure the nights when temperatures drop to -95 degrees Celsius. As Elton John sings in “Rocket Man,” Mars is actually cool as hell.
Maintaining and correct battery function will be critical for the helicopter to survive cold Mars weather before attempting any other test flights. A total of five test flights are planned over a 31-day period once the rover finds the right ‘helipad’, or a well-rounded place, to deposit creativity.
As long as creativity is tied to perseverance, a helicopter can boost its batteries. The helicopter has six lithium-ion batteries. Once separated from the rover, the helicopter’s solar panel will charge these batteries.
Ingenuity’s maiden flight will be short, with only about 20 seconds of flight suspended from Earth. But it will be a historic moment. Like the first Mars rover, Sojourner, creativity is a showcase of technology, an experiment. Demonstrating that this concept can work could lead to the development of helicopters that could serve as scouts for both rovers and human missions to Mars in the future.
If that first flight succeeds, “more than 90% of the project’s goals will be met,” according to NASA.
Subsequent flights can last longer and test more helicopter capabilities. It holds two cameras that can provide aerial photos. Perseverance will also train its Ingenuity cameras to capture the sights and sounds, including video, of these historic flights.
“We are in an unfamiliar area, but this team is used to that,” said Mi Ong, director of the Creativity Helicopter Project on Mars at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement.
“Almost every teacher from here to the end of our flying show program will be the first, and every teacher has to be successful for us to move to the next level. We will enjoy this good news for now, but then we have to get back to work.”