(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has announced that it plans to sendtwo more Ingenuity -class helicopters to Mars aboard its future lander, which will be sent to a neighboring planet as part of a mission to bring Martian soil samples back to Earth.
The decision was made in light of the overwhelming success of the agency’s ongoing helicopter mission. The Ingenuity helicopter that arrived on the Red Planet with the Perseverance rover on Feb. 18, 2021 may be on its last legs, but this little rotorcraft has been around much longer than expected.
Ingenuity, with 29 successful flights, has proven once and for all that using a helicopter on Mars is a very effective way to explore the planet.
Mars samples and NASA plan
As you know, the Perseverance rover is drilling the Martian surface in order to obtain samples placed in sealed capsules, which will be delivered to Earth in the future.
It was originally planned to send a lander with a small rover to Lake Jezero, where Perseverance and Ingenuity operate:
- The rover will drive to Perseverance, pick up samples, and return to the lander
- The module’s robotic arm will retrieve the samples and place them on a small Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) launch vehicle, which could be the first man-made object to take off from the surface of Mars
- The rocket will reach orbit, the sample capsule will separate and dock with the Earth Return spacecraft
- The device will turn on the engines and head towards Earth
But plans have changed, and NASA believes it’s better to send two helicopters to Mars, which will quickly and safely cope with the task of transporting samples from Perseverance to the landing platform.
In addition, two new helicopters, after completing the transport of samples, will remain on Mars to deploy a mission to study the planet’s surface from a “bird’s eye view.”
However, don’t expect the samples to arrive any time soon: NASA says that if all goes according to plan, fragments of Mars won’t be on Earth until 2033 at the earliest.
When the samples get into the hands of scientists, it will be an extremely important step forward in our understanding of the history of Mars, the Earth, the solar system and more.
Contact us: [email protected]