QUO Fast Radio Bursts

Future Missions E1: Ingenuity

March 31, 2021 Season 2 Episode 7
QUO Fast Radio Bursts
Future Missions E1: Ingenuity
Show Notes
  • The Ingenuity drone is a part of the Perseverance mission which landed on Mars in the middle of February 2021.
  • The Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, is a technology demonstration to test powered flight on another world for the first time. This is very important for bringing samples back from Mars and thinking about round trips to Mars.
  • Ingenuity will perform a series of test flights over a 30-Martian-day experimental window beginning in early April.
  • The key obstacle is that Mars has a much thinner atmosphere. Flying a helicopter on Mars is similar to flying the same thing on Earth at an altitude of 30 km. For reference, commercial airplanes fly at an elevation of 11 km.
  • The best way to overcome the thin atmosphere is to spin the blades of the drone much faster. Ingenuity will spin its blade at 2300-2900 rpm. Helicopters on Earth spin at 500rpm. So Ingenuity is about 5-6 times faster. 
  • However, there is another problem with the weaker gravity. It is much harder to test Ingenuity on Earth. NASA has a 25ft.  flight simulation chamber can simulate pressure conditions. For simulating the weaker gravity, the engineers just hung it in the air with fishing lines. 
  • There are batteries on the drone that charge using solar panels. The drone will essentially charge for a complete Martian day.
  • However, most of the energy on the battery is used to keep the drone warm so the electronics can work properly. Martian temperature can fluctuate a lot (-62C to 35C). Only about ⅓ of the energy left for flying. The electronic are sealed into CO2 for insulation
  • It can fly for about 90 sec at a time. It can travel to 300 m going about 5m.
  • The sequence of flying:
    • The drone has been stored on the belly of Percy. On command, Percy turns the drone and lowers it. Then there a bolt connecting the drone to Percy. To unscrew the bolt, they will just blow it up!
    • Then Percy will walk away about 100m from the drone. The waking up sequence on the drone will start (this will take 2 hours.)
    • Once awake, the drone will wait for a signal from Percy, and then it is ready to fly!
  • Future use: Learn to make the design better and send it with future missions to reach places that rover cannot reach and bring back samples not only from Mars but from other extraterrestrial bodies (Dragonfly mission).

Links to Science Outreach Material:

Special thanks to Colin Vendromin for the music also thanks to Zac Kenny for the logo!