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Nasa to fly Ingenuity Mars helicopter in early April

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Summary | 6 Annotations
The US space agency says it expects now to fly the first helicopter on Mars in early April.The little chopper was carried to the Red Planet by the Perseverance rover, which made its dramatic landing in Jezero Crater just over a month ago.
2021/03/24 13:37
Called Ingenuity, the 1.8kg, twin-rotor aircraft will attempt a series of short hops in Mars' rarefied air.If successful, it would represent something of a "Wright Brothers moment", says Nasa.
2021/03/24 13:37
At the moment, the chopper is still attached to Perseverance, to its belly. A protective covering was released at the weekend and in the coming days the craft will be lowered to the ground.Engineers have identified a 10m by 10m area in Jezero that they're calling the "airfield".
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"We are going to do our very best to capture Ingenuity in flight," said Nasa engineer Farah Alibay."We're going to be taking images, we're hoping to take video."This will be challenging, she cautioned. Both rover and helicopter function autonomously and carry separate clocks. The timing devices will need to be in sync for the photography to catch the action.
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If everything goes well, subsequent flights will get more complex. "Currently, the way that we're planning is for the first three flights to demonstrate basic capability - to hover and then to traverse, going to a longer distance down the flight zone and back again," Havard Grip, Ingenuity's chief pilot, told BBC News."If everything goes really well, we might try to stretch our capabilities. But we haven't planned that in detail."
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"Could we image areas not visible from space or that a rover couldn't reach? Could a helicopter scout ahead for rovers and help plot the most efficient course for the best science? Could we support future human missions with aerial capabilities?" she pondered. "Those are questions for another day, but tech demos give us the leeway to be creative and test new things."
2021/03/24 13:37