June 25, 2024

Why helicopter creativity on Mars is so important

5 min read
Why helicopter creativity on Mars is so important

This year we follow the development of the story of a small helicopter on another planet. In addition to the joy brought by the successful landing of the rover determination On Mars in February, Helicopter Flight cleverness This was exactly what we needed in 2021.

Millions of miles away, we look to the Red Planet to distract ourselves from our problems, facing the second year of a pandemic. Meanwhile, two robots are catching up Mars What he thought was impossible.

It’s easy to get our hopes up on them, and to imagine them as two robotic friends playing “cop partner”. Their discoveries delight us. Your success is worth celebrating. And they send us wonderful postcards from a reddish world.

Creativity is designed and built from the same human quality that gave it its name (“Ingenuity”, in Portuguese). Thousands of dedicated, hardworking and creative people have worked for years to make this a reality. When I ask scientists if they’ve ever imagined a helicopter flying to Mars, most say “no”—but they are happy and touched by the presence of the helicopter actively flying through the Martian atmosphere.

The flight was not easy for the helicopter. Imagine building an experiment, a technology that will be shown on another planet, without running into some trouble. Several times, the plane and its team have overcome these challenges and continue to explore.

The Perseverance Wagon, about the size of an SUV, is designed to live on Mars for at least two years. Creativity does not. The 1.8 kg helicopter was built for five test flight tests in April.

So far, Ingenuity has made 15 amazing rides and hasn’t given up yet. Together, they explore Mars in an unprecedented way that could reveal whether life exists on the Red Planet. Creativity has been the perfect partner to travel, explore and lead the way. And perseverance does not have to be the journey alone.

Survive on Mars

As humans, we are fascinated by the journey of flying and exploring Mars. So it’s no surprise that it ends up with something that unites the two that captivates people around the planet.

After the Perseverance Rover survived the famous “Seven Minutes of Terror” landing on Mars in February, we hope to also hear that Creation survived the seven-month journey through space.

I’ve had the privilege of roving coverage on CNN for years; Perseverance’s landing week on Mars was like the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards for me. In closing hours on February 20, I waited, still excited by the success of Perseverance, to see if creativity would send us a message.

The little helicopter called home, from its safe place, inside the “belly” of the rover, to say all was well. It was another big sigh that week, but the grueling creative path was just beginning.

And soon he needed, like a butterfly, to emerge from his cocoon and separate himself from the rover and its reliable source of energy. Perseverance will not be able to protect creativity from the icy nights of Mars. The helicopter has to protect itself.

I breathed a sigh of relief again the first time Ingenuity charged itself with solar panels and battled frigid Mars nights, which can dip to -90 degrees Celsius.

Perseverance and creativity they took a selfie together, sitting on the roof of Jezero crater, as if to say “Hey, no problem. We’re just enjoying the place that was once an ancient Martian lake.” The picture still makes me smile; It is one of my favorites this year.

So, it’s time to get creative. And it wasn’t easy either. But the moments in history are never like that.

Take the first flight

The revolutionary first flight was originally scheduled for April 11, but plans changed after encountering a command sequence issue when the helicopter went through a pre-flight inspection system using its software.

On April 19, Ingenuity successfully completed the first powered flight on another planet and landed safely to the surface. Photos and videos taken by the rover, as well as aerial footage from the helicopter’s camera, showed creativity in motion.

My favorite photo is of Ingenuity’s perspective on herself, watching her own shadow boldly cross the landscape of Mars.

The helicopter team celebrated in the control room on the ground by jumping out of their seats.

“We can now say that humans have flown an airplane on another planet,” Mi Aung, Project Innovation Project Manager for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California said on that day. “We’ve been talking about our ‘brothers Wright moment’ on another planet for a long time. And now it has arrived.”

It is fitting that the expedition carry with it a piece of history. A stamp-sized muslin cloth covering one of the Wright brothers’ Flyer 1 wings is attached to a cable under the helicopter’s solar panel.

The first powered flight on the ground occurred in Flair, North Carolina, when Orville and Wilbur Wright flew 36.6 meters for 12 seconds in December 1903. The Wright brothers made history when they performed four separate flights on December 17, 1903, each with one slightly longer from the last.

The ingenuity wasn’t supposed to fly until April. But like the Wright brothers, he didn’t give up.

Since then, Ingenuity has sent us color photos, going from a tech demonstration to an active rover explorer, surviving terrifying flight anomalies, flying in unstable weather on Mars, and taking longer, faster, and more challenging record flights. from its predecessors.

From dream to reality

Think about the things in your life that weigh less than 2 pounds. Maybe a pet or a family heirloom.

So imagine you are holding creativity in your hands. Imagine that you devoted years of your life to this object, built it, and watched it come to life – only to have it broken during testing.

But then it became a reality, part of a mission to Mars. It worked, and it still works.

Let’s be grateful to people like MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Chief Engineer Bob Balaram, and the rest of the Ingenuity team at NASA, because you worked so hard to make an idea off the shelf a reality.

The Creation weighs just 1.8kg, but it held all our hopes. It has allowed us to dream of successors capable of more. The constant achievements of creativity awaken in us the same joy of falling perseverance.

(Translated text, read the original text Here).

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