Lots of activity next week as I get ready to drop off the helicopter for its test flights. It’s tucked underneath me behind a protective debris shield, which will be the first thing to go.
Here’s my team testing some of what’s coming up: pic.twitter.com/CWwtGw87EX
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 20, 2021
The Rover Perseverance carries an Ingenuity helicopter in the undercarriage, which is transported in a folded state. However, it is not spatially compressed in any complicated way, as it is enough to turn it to the correct orientation and adjust its four legs so that it can be thrown on them from the low height to the surface of Mars.
This process is shown in detail in a video taken in the laboratory, where NASA JPL has, of course, carefully tested whether it will be a reliable and safe way to prepare the Ingenuity for the first flight.
The first step is to drop the shield, which Perseverance has already done. Then he will have to go to the destination, where he will have a flat surface without stones, ie on a “helipad” measuring about 10 x 10 meters. The arm is then unlocked, with which the helicopter rotates 90 ° and approaches the ground. In the end, only her four legs will be tilted so that she can be thrown from a height of about 10 centimeters. Due to the very wide spacing of her legs, there is really no danger that she would turn over.
However, even though it is basically not a complicated procedure, NASA still reserved 6 sols for it. Until the moment of disposal, the Ingenuity batteries will be charged directly from the rover’s source, as it will then have to rely only on its solar panel located at the very top.
Then, perhaps, we will soon see whether the helicopter will manage its first flight and provide a video recording of it. Then she should fly a few more times, but she can’t do more. After all, unlike Perseverance, Ingenuity is based on conventional electronics and uses a completely common Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip, which does not have increased radiation resistance and is not expected to last long. After all, Perseverance itself will have to go further to explore the mystery of Lake Crater, so the Ingenuity will be abandoned anyway.