Washington | clevernessThe US Space Agency said, on Monday morning, that the helicopter belonging to NASA, flew for a short period to Mars, to become the first robotic vehicle to fly to another planet.
It was applause and cries of joy that the news was received in the control room of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“We can now say that humans have flown a robotic device to another planet!” MiMi Aung, Helicopter Project Manager, enthusiastically said.
Scientists and amateurs were able to follow online analysis of data that NASA engineers conducted directly on the Internet, which was sent to Earth a few hours after the flight itself.
A short video clip of the trip captured by the rover Determination On which board cleverness It reached the red planet before landing, and was broadcast in the aftermath of the announcement.
We see the spacecraft flying three meters above sea level and then landing on the surface of Mars.
The helicopter itself sent a black and white photo, showing its shadow on the red planet.
Originally scheduled for April 11, the flight was delayed due to a technical problem that arose while testing its rotors.
The operation was a real challenge, as the density of Mars’ air is equivalent to only 1% of Earth’s atmosphere. However, by blowing air as it rotates, the fans can lift the weight. On Mars, “there are fewer particles to be propelled,” Mimi Ong explained before the flight.
Even if the gravity was less than on Earth, to achieve success, the NASA teams had to develop a lightweight machine (1.8 kg), whose blades rotate much faster than an ordinary helicopter. With four feet and two overlapping blades (1.2 meters long), it looks more like a large drone.
This process on Mars equals the first robotic flight on Earth, in 1903, by the Wright brothers. A piece of fabric from this plane that took off more than a century ago in North Carolina, USA, was placed on board.Honestlys.
In order for this first flight to be “safe”, in the words of Tim Canham, Director of Helicopter Operations, the spacecraft rose vertically to a height of three meters. Then he shaved before he got off.
He had received his instructions from Earth a few hours earlier, but he flew independently, to analyze his position relative to Earth.
The day after the flight, once its batteries are recharged, the helicopter should send a color image of the horizon, taken by the other camera.
But the most spectacular photos should come from the perseverance wagon, placed for observation several meters away, that should depict the flight.
Elsa Jensen, head of rover cameras, said the full video should be transmitted “over the following days”. “There will be surprises, and you’ll learn them at the same time we’re learning. So let’s pop the popcorn!”
NASA has prepared for four scenarios, according to MiMi Aung: total or partial success, missing data, or failure.
Now that the first flight is successful, the second flight can take place in just four days. Up to five flights are planned in total, the difficulty increases.
NASA would like to be able to lift the helicopter to a height of up to 5 meters, then try to get it to move sideways.
“Omar”cleverness Mi Aung explained that it would be “determined by how it landed” each time. That is, if he succeeds in avoiding collapse.
“When we get to 4e And 5e A flight, we’ll have fun, ”she promised.“ We really want to push our car to its limits ”and“ take risks ”.
Whatever happens, after a month, the experiment of creativity will cease, to allow the chariot of perseverance to dedicate itself to its main mission: to search for traces of ancient life on Mars.