He is very small. The Ingenuity helicopter, embarked on Mars aboard the Perseverance rover, has been walking the red planet alone since Saturday April 3. The craft’s first mission was to survive its first frosty night. On Mars, temperatures can drop to – 90 ° C. Ingenuity, which until then relied on the rover’s energy, now relies on its own solar panels located above its rotors.
The device is also equipped with two cameras, one in color for field images, the other in black and white for navigation. He has already delivered his first shot. This low resolution photo of the ground of Mars was taken while Ingenuity was just below the Perseverance rover, the two wheels of which can be seen at the top of the image:
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The quality of the shots from the helicopter must improve according to the teams. “A few higher resolution images should be acquired by this imager during each of Ingenuity’s test flights”, explains NASA in a blog post March 5, cited by the site Numerama .
Soon the first flight for Ingenuity
The small helicopter should indeed take off in some time. The first attempt is scheduled for April 11 at the earliest, that is to say a few days after the deployment of the blades of the device. This first flight should last about thirty seconds at three meters from the ground after rising to one meter per second, explains Numerama.
The Perseverance rover will be nearby to film the maneuver but also in case the operation goes wrong. Once the flight is complete and Ingenuity returns to the ground, technical data and images will be transmitted to NASA via Perseverance. In total, five flight tests are planned and spread over 30 Martian days.