(ORDO NEWS) — Ingenuity, the first Mars helicopter, detached from the Perseverance rover over the weekend, has successfully survived the sharp drop in temperatures during the Martian night. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory writes about this on its website.
“We have selected the right type of insulation, heaters and batteries to make Ingenuity survive the cold Martian night. This paves the way for the first pre-flight tests,” said Mimi Ong, Science Director of the Ingenuity project.
The Ingenuity helicopter hit the planet’s surface thanks to the Perseverance rover. It was developed by NASA engineers to test if flight is possible in the very tenuous atmosphere of Mars.
For the first few weeks after landing, the helicopter remained packed inside the Perseverance and connected to its power and heating systems. Last weekend, it was lowered to the surface of Jezero Crater and disconnected from the rover.
Considering the small mass of the helicopter – 1.8 kg – scientists feared that its thermal insulation, solar panels and accumulators might not cope with the Martian nights, during which temperatures drop to –90 ° С.
These fears turned out to be unfounded – the helicopter successfully survived the first independent “overnight stay” in the Jezero crater and transmitted Perseverance photographs to Earth. Over the next two days, Ong said agency specialists plan to check the temperature regime and optimize the Ingenuity heating system, and then begin the first pre-flight tests.
According to NASA’s plans, the first flight of the Martian helicopter should take place this Sunday, April 11, if unforeseen circumstances do not interfere. If all Ingenuity tests are successful, then in the future, as scientists hope, it will be able to play the role of a kind of “scout” for the less mobile rover.
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