Ingenuity Helicopter / Drone on the surface of Mars, preparing for first test flight.
(Image Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology, Arizona State University)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
Early Monday morning (2021 April 19) will be the re-scheduled attempt at the first test flight of the Ingenuity Helicopter / Drone above the surface of Mars. Results and an event "live-stream" of this historic, first powered flight, over the surface of another planetary body, will be available on-line to the general public, just a few hours after the attempt of the first autonomous flight, due to the distance between Earth and Mars.
An Internet link to the live-stream is located near the end of this blog-post.
NASA states that this attempt will occur “no earlier than” April 19. The time of the re-scheduled attempt on April 19 will be around 3:15 to 3:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 7:15 to 7:30 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). However, the public on-line, live-stream will not begin until about 6:15 a.m. EDT / 10:15 UTC, due to the distance between Earth and Mars.
When the first attempt occurs, it will only last 30 seconds, to enure that flight in the very thin Martian atmosphere is possible. Later in the following weeks will come four more test flights, in which Ingenuity will fly over the Martian surface, not far from the Perseverance Mars Rover.
Engineers at the Space Flight Operations Facility of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California are being very careful with the Mars Helicopter Technology Demonstration Project. If anything happens that tips Ingenuity on its side, there is no one on Mars to up-right the helicopter. This would, probably, mean the end of this technology demonstration project.
This is the reason for the delay in the first test flight attempt, which was originally scheduled for April 11. On April 9, NASA determined that Ingenuity had a command sequence problem. So, the first flight attempt was delayed until JPL engineers had a chance to understand the problem and create a solution. A helicopter spin-test was recently completed by JPL.
The Perseverance Rover will provide flight operations support for Ingenuity, as well as taking images and other environmental data during the flight. Perseverance will also provide the communications link between Ingenuity and the Earth. To provide a safe buffer zone for the helicopter, Perseverance will be located approximately 330 feet / 100 meters from the take-off site.
If the first Mars Helicopter flight does occur on April 19, in addition to the the live-stream of the event that morning, a JPL news conference regarding the historic event will occur later in the afternoon, at 2:00 p.m. EDT / 18:00 UTC.
NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter / Drone project is the first attempt at powered, controlled flight over the surface of another planet. Making this attempt even more challenging is the fact that Ingenuity must be autonomous. No one at JPL's mission control will be guiding the helicopter, because it takes too long for control commands to be communicated by radio.
Ingenuity is a technology experiment which is separate from the other science experiments on Perseverance. Should the Mars Helicopter test succeed, this could add a new, aerial dimension to future exploration of the Red Planet, and perhaps other planets and moons with an atmosphere.
The Mars Helicopter was launched to Mars, tucked under the Perseverance Rover, on 2020 July 30. They landed together at the Octavia E. Butler Landing Site (named for the renowned American science-fiction author) in the Jezero Crater on Mars on 2021 February 18. Ingenuity separated from Perseverance and was deployed on the Martian surface on April 3. The helicopter's rotors were successfully unlocked on April 8.
On Ingenuity is a small piece of history from the beginning of powered flight on Earth: a piece of fabric from the wing of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Wright Brothers' airplane which was the first to succeed in the first controlled, powered flight on Earth.
Internet Link to NASA Live-Stream of Ingenuity Helicopter First Flight Attempt:
Link >>> https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
Internet Links to Additional Informaion ---
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter / Drone -
Perseverance Mars Rover -
Link 1 >>> https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
Planet Mars: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars
Related Blog Posts ---
"Astro-Calendar: 2021 April / 1st Flight of Mars Helicopter in April." Thur., 2021 April 1.
"NASA Laser Retroreflector Going to Mars on Perseverance Rover." Wed., 2020 Oct. 7.
"Thur.-AM U.S. Joins China & U.A.E in Race to Mars; Watch Launch Live."
Mon., 2020 July 27.
Sunday, 2021 April 18.
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Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator &
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/
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Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>> http://www.planetarium.cc Buhl Observatory: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc