NASA’s Mars Helicopter makes historic first flight

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 20, 2021   •   230

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) made history after the successful flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter  on another planet.

According to NASA, its Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California confirmed that the flight was a success after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover.

Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds.

JPL developed the guidance, navigation, and control systems running algorithms to pilot Ingenuity.

NASA associate administrator for Science, Thomas Zurbuchen announced that the team named the airfield, where the Ingenuity Helicopter traversed, as Wright Brothers Field as an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers.

“Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” he said. AAC

 

NASA releases panorama of Mars taken by Perseverance rover

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 26, 2021

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released a 360-degree panoramic image of Mars taken by Perseverance Rover.

NASA said the newly released image reveals the crater, called Jezero Crater, rim and cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance. It is composed of 142 images stitched together. The photos can aid scientists assess the geologic history and atmospheric conditions of Jezero Crater.

“The cameras also will help the mission team determine which rocks the rover should sample and collect for eventual return to Earth in the future,” according to NASA.

NASA said a key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate to pave the way for human exploration of the red planet. AAC

NASA’s new Mars rover launches from Florida to seek signs of past life

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday (July 30) atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbor.

The next-generation robotic rover – a car-sized six-wheeled scientific vehicle – also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and test out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. It is expected to reach Mars next February.

It soared into the sky under clear, sunny and warm conditions carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.

This marked NASA’s ninth journey to the Martian surface.

Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life on Mars.

Scientists have long debated whether Mars – once a much more hospitable place than it is today – ever harbored life. Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and the Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost.

One of the most complex maneuvers in Perseverance’s journey will be what mission engineers call the “seven minutes of terror,” when the robot endures extreme heat and speeds during its descent through the Martian atmosphere, deploying a set of supersonic parachutes before igniting mini rocket engines to gently touch down on the planet’s surface.

Aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.

This was scheduled as the third launch from Earth to Mars during a busy month of July, following probes sent by the United Arab Emirates and China. The state from which the rover was launched, Florida, is currently one of the hot spots in the United States for the coronavirus pandemic. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

NASA poised to launch new rover to seek evidence of past Martian life

UNTV News   •   July 30, 2020

NASA is set to launch an ambitious mission to Mars on Thursday (July 30) with the liftoff of its next-generation Perseverance rover, a six-wheeled robot tasked with deploying a mini helicopter, testing out equipment for future human missions and searching for traces of past Martian life.

The $2.4 billion mission, slated for liftoff at 7:50 a.m. ET (1150 GMT) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, is planned as the U.S. space agency’s ninth trek to the Martian surface. The United Arab Emirates and China separately this month launched probes to Mars in displays of technological prowess and ambition.

Launching atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance, the car-sized Perseverance rover is expected to reach Mars next February. It is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists believe could hold traces of potential past microbial Martian life.

“This is the first time in history where we’re going to go to Mars with an explicit mission to find life on another world,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a news briefing on Wednesday (July 29).

The rover will attempt for the first time to bring Martian rock samples back to Earth, collecting materials in cigar-sized capsules and leaving them scattered on the surface for retrieval by a future “fetch” rover. That conceptual rover is expected to launch the samples back into space to link up with other spacecraft for an eventual Earth homecoming around 2031.

Also aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter dubbed Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.

“Imagine a day when we land a robot on Mars and that robot can send maybe a dozen helicopters in different directions to make different discoveries,” Bridenstine said.

Since NASA’s first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, the agency has sent two others – Spirit and Opportunity – that have revealed the geology of vast Martian plains and found evidence of past water formations, among other discoveries. NASA has successfully sent three landers – Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight – as well.

The United States has plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under its Artemis program, which envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the bigger leap to Mars. (Reuters)

(Production: Rollo Ross)

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