NASA’s Perseverance Rover landed on February 18th and recently began to move. Mounted on the belly of the rover is Ingenuity, a small, 1.8 KG helicopter. Ingenuity will attempt the first powered and controlled flight on another planet no earlier than the first week of April.
Even though Martian gravity is just 38% that of Earth’s, with just 1% of the atmosphere of Earth, developing a vehicle capable of flying on Mars was no simple task for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ingenuity has two, 1.2 meter counter-rotating rotors capable of spinning at 2,400 RPM. The solar-charged electric helicopter is capable of flying for a maximum of 90 seconds at a time, with every flight being entirely without real-time inputs. The 5-20 minute delay means that each flight will have completed minutes before the Ingenuity team receives any information about the flight.
The Ingenuity Test Campaign
The team at NASA’s JPL has a 30-day test flight campaign planned. The first flight…