NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, responsible for the construction and operation of the Perseverance spacecraft, has defined what the Ingenuity helicopter’s first flight will look like on Mars.
In a conference broadcast on YouTube on Wednesday (24), the researchers confirmed that the flight is scheduled for April 8, still without a defined schedule. Plans may change, depending on the wind conditions at the location.
The autonomous helicopter must fly at an altitude of approximately 3 meters for 30 seconds and, if successful, the operation will mark the first flight made on the planet by autonomous equipment.
No big risks
The flight site has also been chosen after many studies by NASA: the so-called “first space aerodrome” will be a runway found by images captured by the probe itself and consists of a space close to the original landing site, in the Jezero crater. .
It was considered to be a flatter, debris-free and relatively safe environment.
But the next challenge is still not the flight itself: for the next few days, the team will experience moments of tension while the Ingenuity helicopter is decoupled from Perseverance, in a movement that needs to be perfect so as not to damage both equipment – and the operation has no return once it has started.
Ingenuity is a drone that works from solar energy and must carry out flights of a maximum of 5 meters to capture sound, photos and videos from Mars from unprecedented angles for humanity.
The helicopter has no measuring or collection instruments and is seen more as a test of technology for more daring missions in the future.
After all, success means that NASA was able to perfectly simulate an atmosphere completely different from Earth, with 1% of the density of our planet.