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What is the News? NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity successfully flies on Mars. It is the first powered flight on another planet.
About NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity
- Ingenuity is the first helicopter to fly on Mars. NASA’s rover called Perseverance carried it to the Red Planet.
- Purpose: The helicopter’s main task is to carry out a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars. Further, it also aims to collect samples from the locations on Mars where the rover cannot reach.
- Features: NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity is able to fly using counter-rotating blades that spin at about 2,400 rpm. It also has a wireless communication system and is equipped with computers, navigation sensors, and two cameras. Moreover, it is also solar-powered and is able to charge on its own.
- Note: The Ingenuity helicopter’s mission is experimental in nature and is completely independent of the Perseverance rover mission.
Read Also:- Importance of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover
Why it was an engineering challenge?
The atmosphere on Mars is 1% in density compared to the atmosphere on Earth. Thus, to fly on Mars, helicopter blades need to rotate 8 times as fast as a passenger helicopter to fly on Earth.
A helicopter flying a few meters from the surface on Mars requires the same amount of energy, as it requires to fly 2-3 times the height of Mt Everest on earth.
Moreover, a helicopter requires to have its own energy source from solar panels. Also, Ingenuity will face very cold Martian nights that can be brutal on batteries and the onboard computer.
- Significance of the mission:
- A helicopter was placed on the surface of Mars for the first time ever.
- Hence, it’s performance during this mission will help in considering small helicopters for future Mars missions — where they can perform a support role as robotic scouts, surveying terrain from above or as full standalone science craft.
- Perseverance is a car-sized Mars rover designed to explore the crater Jezero on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.
- Launched in: The rover was launched in July,2020. It landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars in February.2021.
- The rover is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life.
- It will also collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth in the future.
- Further, it will also test new technology to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.
Source: The Hindu
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