NASA's Ingenuity helicopter
5th April, 2021 Health
Context: NASA's Ingenuity mini-helicopter has been dropped on the surface of Mars in preparation for its first flight.
- The ultra-light aircraft had been fixed to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on the Red Planet on February 18.
- It had been feeding off the Perseverance's power system but will now have to use its own battery to run a vital heater to protect its unshielded electrical components from freezing and cracking during the bitter Martian night.
- Ingenuity will be attempting to fly in an atmosphere that is one percent the density of Earth's, which makes achieving lift harder — but will be assisted by gravity that is one-third of our planet's.
- Ingenuity will be taking high-resolution photography as it flies. Up to five flights of gradual difficulty are planned over the month.
- Future aircraft could cover ground much quicker than rovers, and explore more rugged terrain.