The US space agency (NASA) on Saturday (04.10.2021) announced a delay of at least several days for the first Mars flight of its mini helicopter after a potential technical problem appeared during rotor tests.
Another planet’s controlled and powered aircraft, Intelligence Travel, was scheduled for Sunday, but has now been suspended until at least April 14.
The high-speed test of the 1.8-kilogram helicopter rotor ended more than scheduled on Friday.
“The helicopter team is studying telemetry and diagnosing and understanding the problem,” NASA said in a statement. “Then the test will be modified at full speed.”
NASA said the helicopter was “safe and healthy” and sent the information back to Earth.
Very dangerous activity
Initially, the plan for Sunday was to fly ingenuity for 30 seconds to take a photo of the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars on February 18th.
The space agency considers the helicopter operation to be unprecedentedly dangerous, but says it could provide valuable data on the conditions on Mars.
Flight is a real challenge because Mars’ air is so thin that it is less than 1% of the Earth’s atmospheric pressure. This means that the ingenuity must rotate its rotor blades much faster than a helicopter should fly over the earth.
Five complex planes
After the flight, the ingenuity will send the technical data of the diligence about what it did, and that information will be sent to Earth.
This includes a black and white photograph of the surface of Mars, planned to be taken while ingenious flying.
A day later, when its batteries are recharged, the helicopter will take another photo of the horizon of Mars with a different camera.
If the flight is successful, four days later NASA plans another project. The agency plans a total of five flights, each more difficult than the last trip in a month’s time. He hopes the helicopter will rise five meters and then go sideways.
Mars will be the equivalent of the first manned spacecraft on Earth, carried out by the Wright brothers in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. A piece of cloth from that plane was introduced to the ingenuity to pay homage to that achievement.
jc (afp, dpa)