Monday, September 26

The Ingenuity helicopter braves the cold of Mars | Digital Trends Spanish

Good news for the tough little Mars helicopter, naivety, which has braved the Martian winter so far and will soon return to the air. The helicopter has been taking a break from flying since July as it deals with cold seasonal temperatures and increased dust in the atmosphere, which limited its ability to recharge its battery. Temperatures remain low in the crater jezerodipping to -124 degrees Fahrenheit (-86 degrees Celsius) overnight, but the Ingenuity team is now planning a short jump for the upcoming Flight 30.

Ingenuity hasn’t flown since Flight 29 on June 11, so the team has run some checks to make sure everything is still working as required. These included a low rpm spin of the helicopter rotors on August 6 and a high rpm spin on August 15. The helicopter remained on the surface, but it spun its rotors at speeds similar to those used in actual flight, and the test data looked good.

So he’s on the next flight, as described by Ingenuity team leader Teddy Tzanetos in a blog post: “This 30th sortie will be a short hop, checking the health of our system after surviving 101 winter sols, collecting landing delivery data in support of NASA’s Mars Sample Return Campaign, and potentially removing the dust that has settled on our solar panel since flight 29.”

On flight 30, Ingenuity will be in the air for about 30 seconds, rising to an altitude of 16.5 feet and making a lateral trip of just 7 feet before landing. This is because the purpose of the flight is more to check if the helicopter can still land accurately than to go anywhere. Once this is confirmed, the helicopter can return to longer flights, such as heading along the Jezero Delta, where the Perseverance rover is currently exploring.

“We intend to continue our flight path to the river delta in the coming weeks as the environment (and thus the daily recoverable battery charge) continues to improve,” writes Tzanetos. “With higher battery states of charge will come longer flights, and eventually Ingenuity will be able to power its internal heaters at night, which will keep its electronics from freezing in the Martian cold each night.”

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