First images from Ingenuity, the Martian helicopter drone!

First images from Ingenuity, the Martian helicopter drone!

First images from Ingenuity

We have already seen many photos of the Martian soil, but these that we are going to show you are still something really special! The images we propose were in fact taken by Ingenuity, the NASA drone similar to a helicopter supplied to the mission of the now famous Perseverance rover (of which you can buy a tshirt at this link).

The first image in low resolution transmitted by Ingenuity

This first image, taken on the ground at the foot of Perseverance (of which you can see and wheels in the upper part) is in fact only a taste of what the drone, equipped with rotor and approximate weight of 1.8 kg, it is able to show us a view taken off, or views of the Martian soil from a cruising altitude of about 3 meters high.

Ingenuity managed to pass the landing unscathed in free fall, despite having remained anchored to Perseverance's belly for the duration of the operation. Although it touched the ground of Mars with only about ten centimeters of free space upon impact, everything seems to have gone well, and the module is now ready to operate.

May Ingenuity be in good condition and able to operate autonomously is excellent news. The estimated temperatures present at the landing site, the Jezero Crater, are around -90 degrees Celsius, conditions that put the delicate electronic components of the module and its own batteries at risk. No longer connected to Perseverance, the small Martian helicopter will now have to draw energy (and heat for its batteries) only from its solar panels.

Ingenuity photographed by Perseverance on April 4.

Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Based on how the systems respond to the cold Martian nights, the control center will be able to decide whether to remove the blocks from the rotor blades of Ingenuity, thus allowing the drone to finally take flight in the atmosphere of the Red Planet , thus covering a much wider research area than that normally reachable by the Perseverance "mother" rover.






Mars helicopter Ingenuity performs well before first flight

ORLANDO, Fla., April 7 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity, the first powered aircraft on another planet, is free of the Perseverance rover that carried it and appears to be functioning well ahead of its first flight on Sunday, the space agency said.


NASA plans to broadcast the results of that first flight at 3:30 a.m. EDT Monday after the helicopter transmits data and images to Perseverance, which will send them back to Earth.


The helicopter detached from the rover's underbelly Saturday and survived subzero temperatures with its own heaters, which NASA said Tuesday was 'a major milestone.'


The 4-pound rover uses solar panels to charge its batteries and keep delicate electronics safe from extreme cold that can reach 130 degrees F below zero.


'So far, everything has gone very well, so I'm 90% stress-free about Ingenuity now,' said Jeremy Morrey, a principal engineer at Lockheed Martin, which built the helicopter's protective shield and robotic release mechanism.


Morrey said he and many others on NASA's team watched fervidly as high-resolution images show the aircraft unfolding as designed.


'The images were kind of spectacular really,' Morrey said. 'I mean, you can see the texture and the carbon fiber makeup of the rotors and the little springs as they were released.'


Ingenuity was covered in red Martian dust, even though it had been under a cover during the rover's landing on Feb. 18 because thrusters on the rover's landing jet pack had kicked up clouds of debris.


'The cover was designed to protect Ingenuity from rocks and pebbles, not from dust, so there was a gap where dust got in,' Morrey said. 'Once the helicopter rotors start turning, I expect it will blow away all that dust. They may also stir up a lot more of it though. We'll see.'


Lockheed is working on landing apparatus for NASA's next interplanetary helicopter, the Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon, Titan, in 2027. Morrey said NASA and Lockheed are watching Ingenuity closely for lessons that can be applied to future missions.


The helicopter also has a camera, and sent its first photo back to NASA, showing dusty red pebbles below it. The aircraft is carrying no science equipment as NASA considers it purely a demonstration of powered flight on another planet.


The helicopter's survival since its release Saturday confirms that it has 'the right insulation, the right heaters and enough energy in its battery to survive the cold night, which is a big win,' said MiMi Aung, the helicopter's project manager with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.


NASA plans a live broadcast at 11 a.m. EDT Monday to reveal more data and images, which is to include video taken by the rover showing the helicopter flying.

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on March 29 using its SHERLOC WATSON camera, located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm. NASA is targeting no earlier than April 8 for the helicopter to make the first attempt at a powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

The debris shield, a protective covering on the bottom of NASA's Perseverance rover, was released to allow the Ingenuity helicopter to fold out of the rover on March 21. The debris shield protects the helicopter during landing; releasing it allows the helicopter to rotate down out of the rover's belly. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance acquired this image of its 'ejectable belly pan' laying on the surface of Mars on March 14 using its onboard Left Navigation Camera. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance acquired this image of its 'ejectable belly pan' laying on the surface of Mars using its SHERLOC WATSON camera, located on the turret at the end of the rover's robotic arm. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. In cooperation with the European Space Agency, subsequent NASA missions would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance acquired this image on March 6, of the area in front of it using its onboard Front Right Hazard Avoidance Camera A. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance took this photo on March 4 of a rocky mound in Jezero Crater, which NASA scientists said is likely a remnant of an ancient river delta. Photo courtesy of NASA

Perseverance acquired this image of the area in back of it using its onboard Rear Left Hazard Avoidance Camera. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance acquired this image using its onboard Left Navigation Camera on March 3. The camera is located high on the rover's mast and aids in driving. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

The rover can be seen in this enhanced HiRISE color image at its landing site six days after touchdown on February 24. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance rover acquired this image using its left Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance documents the Martian surface. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

The Martian surface is documented is detail from Perseverance. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

The navigation cameras aboard the Mars rover captured this view of the rover’s deck on Monday. This view provides a look at PIXL (the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), one of the instruments on the rover’s stowed arm. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

This panorama, made by the navigation cameras aboard Perseverance, was stitched together from six individual images after they were sent back to Earth. Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with the European Space Agency, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

This is the first high-resolution, color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover after its landing on February 18. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

This high-resolution still image, from the camera aboard the descent stage, is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA's Perseverance rover touched down on Mars. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Perseverance can be seen falling through the Martian atmosphere in the descent stage, its parachute trailing behind, in this image taken on Thursday by the High-Resolution Imaging Experiment camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The ancient river delta, which is the Perseverance mission's target, can be seen entering Jezero Crater from the left. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

An illustration depicts the rover driving in the foreground across the plain of Jezero Crater, where the robotic explorer landed safely. Image courtesy of NASA

An image showing where Perseverance Mars rover landed is shown during a NASA Perseverance rover mission post-landing update, on February 18, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

Members of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover team watch in mission control as the first images arrive moments after the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

The first photos taken by NASA's Perseverance Mars rover after landing on the Martian surface. A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

These computer simulations show Perseverance landing on the Martian surface. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith. Image courtesy of NASA | License Photo

In this illustration of its descent to Mars, the spacecraft carrying NASA's Perseverance rover slows down using the drag generated by its motion in the Martian atmosphere. Hundreds of critical events must execute precisely on time for the rover to land on Mars safely. Entry, descent, and landing, or 'EDL,' begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere, traveling nearly 12,500 mph. The cruise stage separates about 10 minutes before entering into the atmosphere, leaving the aeroshell, which encloses the rover and descent stage, to make the trip to the surface. Image courtesy of NASA | License Photo

An illustration of Perseverance on Mars, launched from Earth in July. It is the fifth rover to successfully reach Mars, and is the first of three that may return rocks samples to Earth. Image courtesy of NASA | License Photo

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