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Flyaway

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April 19, 2021
RELEASE 21-039

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Succeeds in Historic First Flight

Monday, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT (3:46 a.m. PDT).

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.”

The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight. Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks.

Ingenuity’s initial flight demonstration was autonomous – piloted by onboard guidance, navigation, and control systems running algorithms developed by the team at JPL. Because data must be sent to and returned from the Red Planet over hundreds of millions of miles using orbiting satellites and NASA’s Deep Space Network, Ingenuity cannot be flown with a joystick, and its flight was not observable from Earth in real time.

NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen announced the name for the Martian airfield on which the flight took place.

“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,” Zurbuchen said. “While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked. As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration.”

Ingenuity’s chief pilot, Håvard Grip, announced that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – the United Nations’ civil aviation agency – presented NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration with official ICAO designator IGY, call-sign INGENUITY.

These details will be included officially in the next edition of ICAO’s publication Designators for Aircraft Operating Agencies, Aeronautical Authorities and Services. The location of the flight has also been given the ceremonial location designation JZRO for Jezero Crater.

As one of NASA’s technology demonstration projects, the 19.3-inch-tall (49-centimeter-tall) Ingenuity Mars Helicopter contains no science instruments inside its tissue-box-size fuselage. Instead, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is intended to demonstrate whether future exploration of the Red Planet could include an aerial perspective.

This first flight was full of unknowns. The Red Planet has a significantly lower gravity – one-third that of Earth’s – and an extremely thin atmosphere with only 1% the pressure at the surface compared to our planet. This means there are relatively few air molecules with which Ingenuity’s two 4-foot-wide (1.2-meter-wide) rotor blades can interact to achieve flight. The helicopter contains unique components, as well as off-the-shelf-commercial parts – many from the smartphone industry – that were tested in deep space for the first time with this mission.

“The Mars Helicopter project has gone from ‘blue sky’ feasibility study to workable engineering concept to achieving the first flight on another world in a little over six years,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL. “That this project has achieved such a historic first is testimony to the innovation and doggedness of our team here at JPL, as well as at NASA’s Langley and Ames Research Centers, and our industry partners. It’s a shining example of the kind of technology push that thrives at JPL and fits well with NASA’s exploration goals.”

Parked about 211 feet (64.3 meters) away at Van Zyl Overlook during Ingenuity’s historic first flight, the Perseverance rover not only acted as a communications relay between the helicopter and Earth, but also chronicled the flight operations with its cameras. The pictures from the rover’s Mastcam-Z and Navcam imagers will provide additional data on the helicopter’s flight.

“We have been thinking for so long about having our Wright brothers moment on Mars, and here it is,” said MiMi Aung, project manager of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL. “We will take a moment to celebrate our success and then take a cue from Orville and Wilbur regarding what to do next. History shows they got back to work – to learn as much as they could about their new aircraft – and so will we.”

Perseverance touched down with Ingenuity attached to its belly on Feb. 18. Deployed to the surface of Jezero Crater on April 3, Ingenuity is currently on the 16th sol, or Martian day, of its 30-sol (31-Earth day) flight test window. Over the next three sols, the helicopter team will receive and analyze all data and imagery from the test and formulate a plan for the second experimental test flight, scheduled for no earlier than April 22. If the helicopter survives the second flight test, the Ingenuity team will consider how best to expand the flight profile.

More About Ingenuity

JPL, which built Ingenuity, also manages the technology demonstration project for NASA. It is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics, and Space Technology mission directorates. The agency’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development.

Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, MiMi Aung is the project manager, and Bob Balaram is chief engineer.

For more information about Ingenuity:


and


More About Perseverance

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

JPL built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover. JPL is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California.
 

Grey Havoc

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It's a pity though we didn't get to see either the Kitty Hawk (Mars Airplane) or the Mars Glider fly on Mars back in 2003, on the 100th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight.

nasa-jpg.48406

(A slightly inaccurate caption for this impression of the Kitty Hawk. h/t hesham)


1618847002498.png
The Mars Glider. Note that in the 2000AD Air & Space article that this image came from, it is incorrectly captioned as being the Mars Airplane.

Also, this should not be confused with the slightly later NASA Ames Research Center's rocket powered 'Mars Airplane' (more formally known as MATADOR) that was intended to be deployed on Mars in 2005 as part of the Scout program.


A couple of older loosely related SPF threads:



We had a dedicated thread on the Kitty Hawk at one time if I'm not mistaken, but it seems to have gone AWOL.

EDIT: Here is some background info on Kitty Hawk/Mars Airborne Geophysical Explorer (MAGE), which was also a NASA Ames project by the way.
 
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Flyaway

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View: https://youtu.be/wMnOo2zcjXA


In this video captured by NASA’s Perseverance rover, the agency's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took the first powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19, 2021.

The rover was parked at “Van Zyl Overlook,” about 211 feet (64.3 meters) away in Mars' Jezero Crater and chronicled the flight operations with its cameras.

These images from the rover’s Mastcam-Z cameras show the helicopter hovering above the Red Planet's surface. During this first flight, the helicopter climbed to an altitude of 10 feet (3 meters), hovered, and then touched back down on the surface of Mars.

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration. The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft will help determine whether future explorations on Mars could include an aerial perspective.

Perseverance touched down at "Octavia E. Butler Landing" with Ingenuity attached to its belly on Feb. 18, 2021. The helicopter was deployed to the surface on April 3.

For more information on Ingenuity, visit : https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/heli....

For more information on Perseverance, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS
 

Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/spcplcyonline/status/1384208180155011079


#Ingenuity
JPL Dir Mike Watkins: In 1997, Sojourner was a tech demo that freed us from being in one spot [it was a rover]. Now Ingenuity has freed us from the surface forever.

Edit to add:

View: https://twitter.com/nasa/status/1384209106660036613


Ingenuity #MarsHelicopter gives us the third dimension of Mars exploration, says @NASAJPL director Michael Watkins. Today’s flight builds upon the success of Sojourner, our first rover and tech demo that landed on the Red Planet in 1997.
 

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Just some screenshots of the event for the posterity!

Martian Altimeter reading:
Screenshot_20210420_001743_com.android.chrome.jpg

Terrestrial ground control:
Screenshot_20210420_001724_com.android.chrome.jpg

ICAO registration (from link above) :
EzW2J5SVEAYD9HS.jpeg
Ingenuity’s chief pilot Havard Grip also shared the news that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has assigned a three-letter designator for the helicopter – IGY-1 – and its location has been officially noted as JZRO, for Jezero Crater.
 
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TomcatViP

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Ingenuity wind gust stability was tested in a tailored Geneva's wind tunnel (Switzerland):

Conditions atmosphériques martiennes​

A Genève, l’heure est à présent à la démonstration. Au fond du laboratoire, un drone équipé de capteurs de mouvement est posé au sol, attendant le décollage. En face de lui une «petite» soufflerie de 162 ventilateurs démarre doucement. Un écran posé à côté montre en temps réel la position du drone et la force des vents qui s’échappent.

Le drone décolle et les rafales de vent s’intensifient, pouvant aller jusqu’à 50 kilomètres par heure. Sous le bruit assourdissant des ventilateurs tournant à plein régime, la petite machine volante lutte pour rester stable.

C’est dans des conditions presque similaires qu’Ingenuity a été mis à l’épreuve. «Evidemment, la NASA a dû recréer l’atmosphère martienne, explique Flavio Noca. Tout le système de test était fermé hermétiquement, pour recréer la pression atmosphérique de Mars, qui est 100 fois moins élevée que la nôtre.»

La basse pression de la surface de la planète rouge signifie des vents moins violents que sur Terre. «Nous devons tout de même être sûrs que le drone pourra voler sans problème, affirme Flavio Noca. Il n’y a pas la possibilité de le réparer ou de faire des modifications sur Mars.»

Ingenuity a décollé le 19 avril. Le vol s’est déroulé sans accroc.
---------------//-------------------

Martian atmospheric conditions

In Geneva, the time has come for the demonstration. At the back of the laboratory, a drone equipped with motion sensors is placed on the ground, awaiting take-off. In front of him a "small" blower with 162 fans starts up slowly. A screen next to it shows the drone's position and the strength of the escaping winds in real time.

The drone takes off and the gusts of wind intensify, reaching up to 50 kilometers per hour. Under the deafening noise of the fans spinning at full speed, the little flying machine struggles to stay stable.

It was under almost similar conditions that Ingenuity was put to the test. “Obviously, NASA had to recreate the Martian atmosphere,” explains Flavio Noca. The whole test system was hermetically sealed, to recreate the atmospheric pressure of Mars, which is 100 times lower than ours. "

The low pressure on the surface of the red planet means winds less violent than on Earth. “We still have to be sure that the drone can fly without problem,” says Flavio Noca. There is no way to fix it or make any changes on Mars. "

Ingenuity took off on April 19. The flight went off without a hitch.

 

Flyaway

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Mastcam-Z Video of Ingenuity Taking Off and Landing


NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: April 21, 2021

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter takes off and lands in this video captured on April 19, 2021, by Mastcam-Z, an imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. This video features only the moments of takeoff and landing. As expected, the helicopter flew out of its field of vision but the shadow of it hovering is visible

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance:
-mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
-nasa.gov/perseverance

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

View: https://youtu.be/LtTv1rUixiY
 

Flyaway

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Flyaway

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Regarding the MOXIE experiment on the Perseverance rover.


It's possible! The MOXIE experiment on
@NASAPersevere
has successfully shown that we can convert CO2 from the Martian atmosphere into oxygen. This could pave the way for future explorers to use similar tech to power rockets or provide breathable air for astronauts. Incredible!
View: https://twitter.com/Dr_ThomasZ/status/1384962077169684480

 
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JacopCooper

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Regarding the MOXIE experiment on the Perseverance rover.


It's possible! The MOXIE experiment on
@NASAPersevere
has successfully shown that we can convert CO2 from the Martian atmosphere into oxygen. This could pave the way for future explorers to use similar tech to power rockets or provide breathable air for astronauts. Incredible!
View: https://twitter.com/Dr_ThomasZ/status/1384962077169684480

It's more than a revolution. I lack words to describe what I feel. It makes me understand that building a colony on Mars can become a reality. We can produce oxygen on another planet...Can anyone believe in it? I can't do it yet.
 

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I cannot wait to see how the flight goes tomorrow, any word on when the flight will take place?
 

Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/samuel_xl5/status/1385555251890098183


As some of you may recall, I'd been wondering if the swatch of fabric from the Wright 1903 flyer carried aboard Ingenuity was from one of the pieces carried to the Moon by Neil Armstrong. The staff at the Armstrong Museum told me they believe that this is in fact the case.

View: https://twitter.com/samuel_xl5/status/1385555607676145665


If so, I believe that would make it the first human-made object to land on three separate planetary bodies.
 

Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/nasajpl/status/1386330701218205696


Third flight in the history books✅
Our #MarsHelicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther. The space chopper is demonstrating critical capabilities that could enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future missions to Mars & beyond. go.nasa.gov/ingenuity
 

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FighterJock

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In its third flight on Mars, NASA's tiny helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity, flew about the length of a football field and hit a top speed of around 4.5 miles per hour (2 meters per second), which is roughly the average pace at which humans jog.


If the third flight is anything to go by when Ingenuity set a speed record on Mars, then I simply cannot wait to see what the fourth flight will bring us.
 

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Interesting fact that the rotor speed of Ingenuity helicopter was approximately 5x what would have been needed to lift the same weight here on earth due to the low air pressure/density. They plan on using larger aircraft in the future to move scientific packages around but they will have to have correspondingly fast rotor speeds or larger rotors to compensate for the difference in density.
 

TomcatViP

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They seemed to have gone through the wide chord route that will mitigate the lack of density by also reducing blade's span (but sadly reduce the max sustainable camber).
I wouldn't be surprised if their airfoil has an aft max thickness point and a flat upper surface since there is no gain to expect with varying the pitch (does not exclude aero washout obviously).
 
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bearnard97

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Taking off of the Ingenuity that's a pretty great achievement for the Perseverance mission and for whole space exploration area. Excellent work by NASA's scientists and engineers. I guess that this flight will help humans in futher Mars exploration and of course it will help in making the first crewed mission to the red planet
 

Flyaway

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Ingenuity has five flights and no more see last answer in this Reddit.

https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/mz4duo View: https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/mz4duo/were_nasa_experts_working_on_the_marshelicopter/


Why doesn't Percy pan the camera to keep Ingenuity in frame?
The remote sensing mast is driven by a motor controller that has not been fully cleared for simultaneous operations with the helicopter due to potential interference with the heli radio link. Due to this operational constraint we have to keep the cameras at a fixed pointing during the helicopter flight. --JM


How autonomously can Ingenuity act or just how detailed do instructions have to be for it to perform? Does it monitor itself for obstacles when flying or does it simply trust the commands it was given?
The latter, Ingenuity does not have obstacle avoidance capabilities. Instead the operations team prepares sequences which you can think of as step-by-step to-do lists for Ingenuity to follow, which include special guidance waypoint commands which define where the team wants Ingenuity to fly during the profile of a flight. All the hard work of localization within a map is done before the flight sequence is drafted here on the ground. --TT


Any chance of catching the sound of the copter using the rover's mic?
Maybe. First, the CO2 in the Mars atmosphere absorbs sound (especially at higher frequencies) more than Earth's atmosphere, so it might be too quiet anyway. There are also some instrument operations that need to be checked out before we try to listen, as the microphone and the video mode of the camera have not been operated together in ground testing. --RL


Will helicopters be used in future missions to replace rovers to explore Mars and what are the benefits of exploration with powered flight compared to something on the ground like Perseverance?
Several studies done by joint teams at Ames and JPL have shown that larger rotorcraft capable of doing more science are possible. These would be useful for areas that are hard to reach because of difficult terrain (canyon walls, rocky terrain, high altitude etc.). One really useful application might be rotorcraft and rover/lander pairs that could significantly improve the efficiency of future missions. --SWM

In which aspect can Ingenuity help astrobiological research?
Jezero Crater is an ancient environment that may have been favorable for life. Ingenuity is a flight demonstrator, but if successful, this can open opportunities to use aerial vehicles to work in conjunction with rovers to explore areas that are too challenging or dangerous for rovers to access. -- WK

If Ingenuity would tip over, is there any possibility for perseverance to lift it back up?

Unfortunately, no. Perseverance and Ingenuity were not designed to physically interact with each other after the helicopter was deployed from the bottom of the rover. -- GT

How many monthly flights do y’all predict per year for the Ingenuity Helicopter?
Ingenuity is set to perform five flight tests. We are so fortunate to be able to collaborate with the rover team on this project. Since this is a collaboration with the rover team, we are borrowing time from the rover. So, after five flight tests, even if Ingenuity is able operate, Perseverance will resume its own mission and stop communicating to Ingenuity. -- WK
 

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sferrin

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Only 5 flights? WTF? Fly it until it doesn't fly anymore. What the hell is wrong with NASA?
 

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