“NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity” Makes First Flight on Another Planet

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 Rover:
  • 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.
  • Purpose:
    • 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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