NASA has introduced the earliest date it hopes its Ingenuity Mars helicopter will have the ability to make its first try at a managed flight of an plane on one other planet.
Ingenuity has been connected to the underside of the Perseverance rover because it landed on the planet on 18 February.
On Sunday the rover eliminated the protect which had protected the helicopter throughout touchdown and it’s now in transit to an space designated as an “airfield” the place Ingenuity will try its first flight.
NASA mentioned it’s aiming for the flight to happen “no sooner than April 8”.
As soon as the mission has begun, the staff can have 30 Martian days, or sols, to finish the flight.
“As with the whole lot with the helicopter, one of these deployment has by no means been finished earlier than,” mentioned Farah Alibay, Mars Helicopter integration lead for the Perseverance rover.
“As soon as we begin the deployment there isn’t any turning again. All actions are carefully coordinated, irreversible, and depending on one another.
“If there may be even a touch that one thing is not going as anticipated, we could determine to carry off for a sol or extra till we have now a greater thought of what’s going on.”
If the whole lot goes to plan with the helicopter detaching and shifting away from the rover then the machine might be prepared for raise off.
The tiny helicopter, which weighs simply 1.8kg, will hover at 3m (10ft) above the floor for round 30 seconds earlier than descending and touching again down.
Perseverance will then obtain the information taken by the helicopter and the staff will have the ability to conclude whether or not the flight has been successful or not.
The Ingenuity mission shouldn’t be with out its challenges.
NASA mentioned flying in a managed method on the Purple Planet is far more troublesome than on Earth.
It does have a major quantity of gravity however its environment is simply 1% as dense as Earth’s on the floor.
It additionally receives solely half of the photo voltaic vitality of Earth and night-time temperatures can drop to as little as -90C (-130F) which may injury electrical parts.
“Each step we have now taken since this journey started six years in the past has been uncharted territory within the historical past of plane,” mentioned Bob Balaram, Mars helicopter chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“And whereas getting deployed to the floor might be a giant problem, surviving that first evening on Mars alone, with out the rover defending it and preserving it powered, might be a good greater one.”