NASA is set to launch a test flight for their prototype helicopter called ‘Ingenuity’ for the first time in the next month. The agency mentioned that it plans to oversee the test flight by April 8th.
Ingenuity made its way to Mars attached to NASA’s Perseverance rover which successfully landed on the surface of the red planet on February 18th. Perseverance will deploy Ingenuity in a 33-by-33 foot stretch of terrain within the Jezero Crater NASA has selected for its flatness. The entire process will take about six days to complete, with one step of the procedure involving a pyrotechnic cable-cutting device.
Once the Ingenuity is deployed it will carefully back away from the helicopter to give its solar cells the chance to recharge hence completing the overall test flight. Farah Alibay, a systems engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, added that this type of deployment had never been done before.
Once everything is executed smoothly, Ingenuity’s first test flight will see it hover about 10 feet off the surface of the planet for 30 seconds. So far, NASA has only had a chance to fly Ingenuity here back on Earth, where it has tested it inside vacuum chambers and labs.
Though there are numerous obstacles one of them being the temperature of the planet for robots where the temperature drops as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to MiMi Aung, Project Manager for Ingenuity at JPL:
“Mars is hard. Our plan is to work whatever the Red Planet throws at us the very same way we handled every challenge we’ve faced over the past six years – together, with tenacity and a lot of hard work, and a little Ingenuity.”