top of page

What would help Ingenuity to Fly in a less dense atmosphere of Mars?

Ingenuity, as we all know, it’s a robotic helicopter that’s been carried by Perseverance rover. It’s used to test whether the flight is possible in the Martian atmosphere or not. This small drone helicopter is planned to be deployed around 19th February 2021 from its carrier rover. It is planned to make the first powered flight out of our home planet. It is expected that it will fly up to five times during its 30-day test campaign, early in the rover’s mission, as its primarily a technological demonstration. Each flight is planned to take an altitude of 3- 5 meters. In up to 90 seconds per flight, it could travel as far as 50 meters downrange and then back to the starting area. It can use autonomous control during its short flights, although flights will be telerobotically planned and scripted by controllers at JPL. It will communicate with the Perseverance rover directly after each landing. If it works as expected, NASA could build on the design for future Mars aerial missions MiMi Aung is the project lead. Other contributors include AeroVironment Inc., NASA Ames Research Center, and NASA Langley Research Center.

The helicopter uses contra-rotating coaxial rotors about 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter. Its payload is a high-resolution downward-looking camera for navigation, landing, and science surveying of the terrain, and a communication system to relay data to the Perseverance rover. Although it is an aircraft, it was constructed to spacecraft specifications to endure the g-force and vibration during launch. It also includes radiation-resistant systems capable of operating in the frigid environment of Mars. The inconsistent Mars magnetic field precludes the use of a compass for navigation, so it uses a solar tracker camera integrated into JPL's visual-inertial navigation system. Some additional inputs include gyros, visual odometry, tilt sensors, altimeter, and hazard detectors. It was designed to use solar panels to recharge its batteries, which are six Sony Li-ion cells with 35–40 Wh (130–140 kJ) of battery energy capacity (nameplate capacity of 2 Ah).

The helicopter uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with a Linux operating system. Among other functions, this controls the visual navigation algorithm via a velocity estimate derived from features tracked with a camera. The Qualcomm processor is connected to two flight-control microcontroller units (MCUs) to perform the necessary flight-control functions. It also carries an IMU and a Garmin LIDAR-Lite v3 laser altimeter. Communications with the rover are through a radio link using low-power Zigbee communication protocols, implemented via 900 MHz SiFlex 02 chipsets mounted in both the rover and helicopter. The communication system is designed to relay data at 250 kbit/s over distances of up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft)

For flight testing, a large vacuum chamber was used to simulate the very low atmospheric pressure of Mars — filled with carbon dioxide to approximately 0.60% of standard atmospheric pressure at sea level on Earth — which is roughly equivalent to a helicopter flying at 34,000 m (112,000 ft) altitude in the atmosphere of Earth. To simulate the much-reduced gravity field of Mars, 62% of Earth's gravity was offset by a line pulling upwards during flight tests.

The next generation of the rotorcraft could be in the range between 5 and 15 kgs and with scientific payloads between 0.5 and 1.5 kg. Future helicopters could be used to explore special regions with exposed water ice or brines where Earth microbial life could potentially survive. Mars helicopters may also be considered for fast retrieval of small sample caches back to a Mars ascent vehicle for return to Earth such as the one to be launched in 2026.

source- wiki / Wikipedia

44 views0 comments


bottom of page