Is there life on Mars? Is there water on Mars? Can humans survive on Mars? These questions have haunted us with many others since we have learned regarding the Solar System. As a result, many astronautical missions have scheduled and executed to uncover the mysteries of Mars. Though we have gained some knowledge on this red planet, such as; humans cannot live on Mars without a complex life support system, as we learned the basic ecology and atmosphere of Mars. But till there are many mysteries are hovering around this planet.
First aircraft to fly on another planet:
And now as an introductory effort, NASA is sending a robotic helicopter, named Ingenuity, which is scheduled to launch between July 17 to August 5, 2020 (launch window) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and land on the Jezero Crater site in Mars on 18th February 2021. Ingenuity will ride to Mars attached to the belly of the spacecraft named Perseverance rover. Ingenuity is planned to perform in an experimental series of flight tests for over 30-Martian-day.
Since the concept of Mars helicopter has come on the news many are curious to know more about this robotic helicopter. Ingenuity is a small helicopter; primarily it will test and demonstrate the technology to scout interesting targets on the thin air of Mars. Also, it is planned to use to device the best driving route for Mars rovers in future missions. NASA could build further designs based on the technology used in Ingenuity for future Mars aerial missions.
Facts to know about the Mars helicopter Ingenuity.
The powered flight on another planet:
Ingenuity is the first human-made aircraft to fly on another planet. In the history of astronautics, it will be a great success when the Perseverance rover will land with the Mars helicopter in the belly of it in February 2021.
Light-weight and strong material:
Ingenuity weighs less than 1.8 kilograms or 4 pounds. It’s built-in such a way so that it can take wings in the thin air of Mars. Also, very strong material is used so that it can survive the journey under the rover while on the way to Mars, as well can last in the harsh Martian environment, once it arrives on the surface.
Can lift off in the thin Mars atmosphere:
The helicopter is powerful enough so that can lift off in the atmosphere of Mars. Which is very thin, the air density on Mars is less than 1% of the density of Earth's. For this reason, the helicopter is less-weighted as well.
Works on robotic technology:
The Mars helicopter flies on its own, without direct human control. So it can work with minimal commands sent in advance. Accordingly, it will take off, fly, and land as establishing regular connectivity with Mars is not possible to date.
Is solar-powered to fly for up to 90 seconds:
The Mars helicopter may fly for a distance of almost 300 meters of 980 feet. It may fly for up to 90 seconds at about 10 to 15 feet high above the ground in the thin air of Mars. There is a solar panel on the top of it to keep the batteries charged.
The final thoughts:
There is eighteen successful Mars mission recorded in history. We gathered enough knowledge about the atmosphere of Mars so that we can now fly our aircraft in the harsh environment of it. Ingenuity or the Mars helicopter will create history once it dropped from the belly of Perseverance rover and the team safely releases the helicopter onto the surface of Mars. And this camera-equipped copter will open the opportunity for flying drones and other aircraft on Mars and we can focus on the visibility of surveying the surface of Mars by the sky.