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The ingenious mini-helicopter survives its first night alone on Mars

The ingenious mini-helicopter survives its first night alone on Mars

The ultralight helicopter, which looks like a giant drone, was detached from the rover of diligence on Saturday, which landed on Mars on February 18.

Ingenuity escaped from its first frost night on Mars. On the Red Planet, which landed on the rover of NASA’s diligence sent on February 18, the temperature could drop to -90 els Celsius. After taking this “major step”, the mini helicopter attached under the rover is now ready for its first flight. Ultralight and like a giant drone, the ingenuity parted from Saturday’s diligence.

It previously relied on the rover’s energy, but now relies on its own solar panels to survive the warming of Tuesday nights. To get away from the diligence, the helicopter, which weighed 1.8kg, expanded like a butterfly before the rover left Earth last July.

“Great Success”

“This is the first time there has been intelligence on the surface of Mars,” said Mimi Ang, head of the intelligence program at NASA’s Pasadena – based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JBL) in California. .

“We have now confirmed that we have the right insulation, the right heaters and enough energy in its batteries to sustain the cold nights, which is a huge success for the team.

Over the next few days, the ingenious machine and sensor will undergo tests. If all goes well, the mini helicopter will complete its first test flight. JPL said it would not happen until the evening of April 11th.

30 days work

If the accidental experiment were successful, it would be a real achievement, because the density of Martian air is only 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere. This will be the first aircraft of a motorized vehicle on another planet. With four feet, a body and two exaggerated propellers, the ingenuity measures only 1.2 m from one end of its blades to the other.

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Once the ingenious autonomy and its energy are diligently borrowed, the helicopter can send NASA information on its performance and thermal control over the next two days. This will allow JBL to make the necessary changes to its survival within the 30 days scheduled for its mission.

The first test at a height of 3 meters

Ingenuity is a technical demonstration above all else. Two years on, it explains why its work is so much less than the fixed rover. During this period of 30 Mars days (equivalent to 31 days on Earth), the helicopter can perform a total of five test flights. The first is planned to fly at an altitude of 3 meters, make a simple turn and come to its landing site measuring 10 square meters. The test should not take more than 30 seconds. The following planes should be longer.

NASA has revealed that a small piece of cloth from the Wright brothers’ plane that departed a century ago in North Carolina, USA, has been placed on the ingenuity as a tribute. So it is currently on Mars.

Jules Becknard with AFP PFMTV Reporter