NASA considering bigger Mars helicopters

NASA considering bigger Mars helicopters

With the Ingenuity helicopter proceeding to exhibit its capacities on Mars, NASA engineers are analyzing ideas for bigger, more competent rotorcraft that could be flown on future missions.

Creativity played out its eighth trip on Mars June 21, voyaging 160 meters and arriving at another site 133.5 meters from the Perseverance meanderer. The flight, which endured 77.4 seconds, was the third since Ingenuity moved from its unique five-flight innovation showing mission, demonstrating it could fly in the dainty Martian climate, to filling in as an activities exhibit working related to Perseverance.

Those flights are booked to proceed for in any event a couple of more months. “A piece of what will be occurring in the coming months are extra flights that exhibit how this dance can function between the helicopter and the meanderer,” said Ken Farley, boss researcher for the Mars 2020 mission, during a June 21 gathering of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG).

That incorporates, he said, acquiring symbolism of spots that the meanderer can’t travel, for example, a locale considered Seitah that is excessively unpleasant for the wanderer to navigate. Helicopter pictures could likewise be utilized to make “territory networks” to empower longer drives by the meanderer by giving it data about landscape the wanderer’s own cameras, mounted on a pole, can’t see.

“That is going to continue for at least few more months, with a cadence of a couple of flights,” he said. “That is the level that we can easily make this coordination work.”

“We hope to fly many, many more,” said Teddy Tzanetos of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, some portion of the Ingenuity group, at MEPAG. The helicopter has flown a total distance of almost one kilometer, remembering 266 meters for one flight. In any case, the task is thinking about “stretch capabilities” of individual trips as much as one kilometer long, enduring as long as three minutes. “That would really be pushing the limit of what the technology demonstrator is capable of.”

Information gathered by Ingenuity is supporting arranging of a future helicopter plan by engineers at JPL, NASA’s Ames Research Center and AeroVironment. The Mars Science Helicopter would be a hexacopter, or six-rotor helicopter, with a mass of around 30 kilograms. Creativity, paradoxically, weighs 1.8 kilograms. Mars Science Helicopter could convey as much as five kilograms of science payloads and fly as much as 10 kilometers for each fight.

“We’re trying to look at the science applications: what science is enabled by having the aerial dimension added,” he said. That incorporates venturing out to areas distant to meanderers, like the sides of bluffs and into caves.

In a white paper submitted as a component of the continuous planetary science decadal review, researchers recognized a few applications for the Mars Science Helicopter, from investigations of Martian geography and climate to assessment of “special regions” of astrobiological premium without hazard of tainting.

One notional mission portrayed in the paper is to visit an outpouring channel considered Mawrth Vallis that is hard for wanderers to get to, gather tests at a few areas and afterward return them to a lander for examination. “We’re open to ideas and new concepts,” Tzanetos said.

He didn’t talk about likely expenses or flight openings for Mars Science Helicopter, albeit the white paper noticed that “there are viable roles for [Mars Science Helicopter] across a range of mission classes,” including NASA’s Discovery and New Frontiers classes. An easier helicopter configuration remembered for the white paper, basically an increased form of Ingenuity, “is sufficiently low mass and low volume that it should be considered in all future launch opportunities to Mars’ surface,” the paper closed.

Office authorities said recently they were not considering adding a helicopter to its next lander mission, the Sample Return Lander that is important for the Mars Sample Return program and is planned for dispatch no sooner than 2026.

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