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Raumfahrt - NASA Mars Perseverance Rover 2020 Mission-Update-26

10.04.2021

NASA helicopter set to attempt first-ever flight on another planet

After a nearly 300-million mile journey to Mars aboard the Perseverance rover, the Ingenuity helicopter is ready to make its historic maiden flight.

"Our goal, plain and simple, is to prove that we can fly on Mars. Once we do that we hope that this is going to blow the doors open for future of Martian exploration." Ingenuity deputy operations lead Teddy Tzanetos said in a live Q&A video from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

The rover carrying Ingenuity landed on Mars Feb. 18 after an eight-month voyage from Kennedy Space Center.  Percy, as the rover is affectionately known,  has been busy conducting science experiments while Ingenuity has been preparing for its big debut.

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NASA's Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover's rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021.  
NASA / JPL-CALTECH

The 4-pound helicopter recently completed some major milestones. It successfully deployed from underneath the rover, charged its batteries and survived the frigid Martian night which can drop to as low as -130 degrees Fahrenheit.

The first attempt of a powered controlled flight on another planet is set for Sunday, April 11. Tzanetos explained that the first flight will consist of a simple take off, hover around 15 feet off the ground and land back down.  The team is targeting the following flights to last around 90 seconds. 

"Unlocking that aerial dimension we think is going to be very exciting for humanity and for scientists within NASA and the larger exploration community. We really think that this is going to be that break- through moment for us to try out new ways to explore Mars," Tzanetos said.

The team plans to demonstrate the helicopter's flying abilities with several flights over a period of up to 31 days. Percy will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.

Tzanetos compared Ingenuity to Sojourner, the first rover to land on Mars, which proved the technology was viable and that lead to the rovers that followed. 

"We hope Ingenuity will do the same for the future of Martian aerial exploration," he said.

Due to the time delays between Earth and Mars and the amount of time required to download the data from Ingenuity, NASA will not be live-streaming the actual flight. 

If the helicopter flies on Sunday as expected NASA will livestream the helicopter team analyzing the first test flight data in JPL’s Space Flight Operations Facility beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT on  Monday, April 12, which can be seen on NASA Television and the NASA website

“It will probably be one of the most nervous moments of my life and the whole team. We’re gonna send that sequence up the night before, then we’re gonna knock on wood and cross our fingers and hope that everything goes the way we tested and planned."

Quelle: Florida Today

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter to Make First Flight Attempt Sunday

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This image was captured by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on the following sol, April 8, 2021.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Lee este nota de prensa en español aquí.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is two days away from making humanity’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. If all proceeds as planned, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is expected to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. local Mars solar time (10:54 p.m. EDT, 7:54 p.m. PDT), hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Mission control specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California expect to receive the first data from the first flight attempt the following morning at around 4:15 a.m. EDT (1:15 a.m. PDT). NASA TV will air live coverage of the team as they receive the data, with commentary beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT).

 

“While Ingenuity carries no science instruments, the little helicopter is already making its presence felt across the world, as future leaders follow its progress toward an unprecedented first flight,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters. “We do tech demos like this to push the envelope of our experience and provide something on which the next missions and the next generation can build. Just as Ingenuity was inspired by the Wright brothers, future explorers will take off using both the data and inspiration from this mission.”

 

The Mars Helicopter is a high-risk, high-reward technology demonstration. If Ingenuity were to encounter difficulties during its 30-sol (Martian day) mission, it would not impact the science gathering of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission.

 

Flying in a controlled manner on Mars is far more difficult than flying on Earth. Even though gravity on Mars is about one-third that of Earth’s, the helicopter must fly with the assistance of an atmosphere whose pressure at the surface is only 1% that of Earth. If successful, engineers will gain invaluable in-flight data at Mars for comparison to the modeling, simulations, and tests performed back here on Earth. NASA also will gain its first hands-on experience operating a rotorcraft remotely at Mars. These data sets will be invaluable for potential future Mars missions that could enlist next-generation helicopters to add an aerial dimension to their explorations.

 

“From day one of this project our team has had to overcome a wide array of seemingly insurmountable technical challenges,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at JPL. “And here we are – safely on Mars – on the eve of our first flight attempt. We got this far with a never-say-die attitude, a lot of friends from many different technical disciplines, and an agency that likes to turn far-out ideas into reality.”

 

Anatomy of a First Flight

 

Sunday’s flight will be autonomous, with Ingenuity’s guidance, navigation, and control systems doing the piloting. That’s mostly because radio signals will take 15 minutes, 27 seconds to bridge the 173-million-mile (278-million-kilometer) gap between Mars and Earth. It’s also because just about everything about the Red Planet is demanding.

 

“Mars is hard not only when you land, but when you try to take off from it and fly around, too,” said Aung. “It has significantly less gravity, but less than 1% the pressure of our atmosphere at its surface. Put those things together, and you have a vehicle that demands every input be right.”

 

Events leading up to the first flight test begin when the Perseverance rover, which serves as a communications base station for Ingenuity, receives that day’s instructions from Earth. Those commands will have travelled from mission controllers at JPL through NASA’s Deep Space Network to a receiving antenna aboard Perseverance. Parked at “Van Zyl Overlook,” some 215 feet (65 meters) away, the rover will transmit the commands to the helicopter about an hour later.

 

Then, at 10:53 p.m. EDT (7:53 p.m. PDT), Ingenuity will begin undergoing its myriad preflight checks. The helicopter will repeat the blade-wiggle test it performed three sols prior. If the algorithms running the guidance, navigation, and control systems deem the test results acceptable, they will turn on the inertial measurement unit (an electronic device that measures a vehicle’s orientation and rotation) and inclinometer (which measures slopes). If everything checks out, the helicopter will again adjust the pitch of its rotor blades, configuring them so they don’t produce lift during the early portion of the spin-up.

 

The spin-up of the rotor blades will take about 12 seconds to go from 0 to 2,537 rpm, the optimal speed for the first flight. After a final systems check, the pitch of the rotor blades will be commanded to change yet again – this time so they can dig into those few molecules of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon available in the atmosphere near the Martian surface. Moments later, the first experimental flight test on another planet will begin.

 

“It should take us about six seconds to climb to our maximum height for this first flight,” said JPL’s Håvard Grip, the flight control lead for Ingenuity. “When we hit 10 feet, Ingenuity will go into a hover that should last – if all goes well – for about 30 seconds.”

 

While hovering, the helicopter’s navigation camera and laser altimeter will feed information into the navigation computer to ensure Ingenuity remains not only level, but in the middle of its 33-by-33-foot (10-by-10-meter) airfield – a patch of Martian real estate chosen for its flatness and lack of obstructions. Then, the Mars Helicopter will descend and touch back down on the surface of Jezero Crater, sending data back to Earth, via Perseverance, to confirm the flight.

 

Perseverance is expected to obtain imagery of the flight using its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers, with the pictures expected to come down that evening (early morning Monday, April 12, in Southern California). The helicopter will also document the flight from its perspective, with a color image and several lower-resolution black-and-white navigation pictures possibly being available by the next morning.  

 

“The Wright brothers only had a handful of eyewitnesses to their first flight, but the historic moment was thankfully captured in a great photograph,” said Michael Watkins, director of JPL. “Now 117 years later, we are able to provide a wonderful opportunity to share the results of the first attempt at powered, controlled flight on another world via our robotic photographers on Mars.”

 

More About Ingenuity

 

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters in Washington. It is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics, and Space Technology mission directorates. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance.

 

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. At JPL, MiMi Aung is the project manager and J. (Bob) Balaram is chief engineer.

 

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 22.00 MESZ

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Mars Helicopter Flight Delayed to No Earlier than April 14

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU. Download image ›

Based on data from the Ingenuity Mars helicopter that arrived late Friday night, NASA has chosen to reschedule the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s first experimental flight to no earlier than April 14.

During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a “watchdog” timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.

The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.

The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 12.04.2021

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Nasa preparing to attempt first controlled flight on another world

The Ingenuity helicopter, which arrived on the red planet in February, is expected to take to the skies on Wednesday

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An artist’s impression of how the Ingenuity helicopter may look when it lifts off into Martian skies. Photograph: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/PA 
 

Nasa is gearing up to attempt the first controlled flight on another planet next week, with the tiny Ingenuity helicopter on Mars.

The helicopter is expected to take to the skies next week, with Wednesday being the earliest time scheduled.

 

Ingenuity arrived at the Jezero Crater on the red planet on 18 February after an eight-month journey spanning nearly 300 million miles inside the Perseverance rover.

Take-off had been scheduled for Monday, but Nasa said this was delayed after a technical issue during a rotor test, which means another test is now needed prior to the launch.

The helicopter is 50cm tall and weighs 1.8kg on Earth, but, due to the red planet’s lower gravity, a mere 680g on Mars. It is armed with two rotors that spin in opposite directions to lift the drone off the ground.

“During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a ‘watchdog’ timer expiration,” Nasa said.

“This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter is safe and healthy and communicated its full telemetry set to Earth.

“The watchdog timer oversees the command sequence and alerts the system to any potential issues. It helps the system stay safe by not proceeding if an issue is observed and worked as planned.”

After the spacecraft landed, it dropped the drone on to the ground so the aircraft could prepare for its maiden flight. It is part of a technology demonstration: a project that aims to test a new capability for the first time. As such, it does not have any scientific instruments onboard.

According to Nasa, one of Ingenuity’s key objectives is to survive the “bone-chilling temperatures” of the planet with “nights as cold as minus 90C”. It also faces the challenge of flying in Mars’s atmosphere, which is about 100 times thinner than Earth’s.

For its first flight, the helicopter will take off from the ground and hover in the air at about 3 metres for 20 to 30 seconds before descending and touching back down on the Martian surface.

If successful, Nasa says it will be a “major milestone” – the very first powered flight in another world.

The aircraft will then attempt additional experimental flights, which will involve travelling further distances and increasing altitudes.

It is designed to be mostly autonomous so Nasa will not be able to control the helicopter remotely due to the distance between Earth and Mars. It takes more than 11 minutes to get a radio signal back to Earth.

Last month the Perseverance rover sent back the first ever sounds of driving on the red planet – a grinding, clanking and banging noise.

Quelle: The Guardian

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Update: 13.04.2021

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Work Progresses Toward Ingenuity’s First Flight on Mars

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter unlocked its rotor blades, allowing them to spin freely, on April 7, 2021, the 47th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

The Ingenuity team has identified a software solution for the command sequence issue identified on Sol 49 (April 9) during a planned high-speed spin-up test of the helicopter’s rotors. Over the weekend, the team considered and tested multiple potential solutions to this issue, concluding that minor modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software is the most robust path forward. This software update will modify the process by which the two flight controllers boot up, allowing the hardware and software to safely transition to the flight state. Modifications to the flight software are being independently reviewed and validated today and tomorrow in testbeds at JPL.

While the development of the new software change is straightforward, the process of validating it and completing its uplink to Ingenuity will take some time. A detailed timeline for rescheduling the high-speed spin-up test and first flight is still in process. The process of updating Ingenuity’s flight control software will follow established processes for validation with careful and deliberate steps to move the new software through the rover to the base station and then to the helicopter. Intermediate milestones include:

• Diagnose the issue and develop potential solutions
• Develop/validate and upload software
• Load flight software onto flight controllers
• Boot Ingenuity on new flight software

Once we have passed these milestones, we will prepare Ingenuity for its first flight, which will take several sols, or Mars days. Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week. We are confident in the team’s ability to work through this challenge and prepare for Ingenuity’s historic first controlled powered flight on another planet.

Ingenuity continues to be healthy on the surface on Mars. Critical functions such as power, communications, and thermal control are stable. It is not unexpected for a technology demonstration like this to encounter challenges that need to be worked in real time. The high-risk, high-reward approach we have taken to the first powered, controlled flight on another planet allows us to push the performance envelope in ways we could not with a mission designed to last for years such as Perseverance. In the meantime, while the Ingenuity team does its work, Perseverance will continue to do science with its suite of instruments and is gearing up for a test of the MOXIE technology demonstration.

Quelle: NASA

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Mars helicopter needs a software update before attempting first flight

 

NASA said Monday the Ingenuity helicopter needs a software update to resolve a problem that cut short the drone’s rotor startup sequence on Mars last week, postponing the craft’s first flight in the Red Planet’s atmosphere until later this month.

The helicopter — set to try to become the first craft to perform powered flight in the atmosphere of another planet — aborted an attempted spin-up of the its counter-rotating blades Friday after its autonomous control software detected a problem.

The lightweight helicopter was programmed to power up its rotors to flight speed near 2,500 rpm for a final pre-flight checkout Friday, leading to an attempt at a first flight Sunday, April 11. But the premature end to the high-speed spin test prompted ground teams to delay Ingenuity’s first test flight to no earlier than Wednesday, April 14.

In an update released late Monday by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, mission managers said engineers identified a software fix for the “command sequence issue” that ended the high-speed spin-up test Friday.

Officials at JPL, which manages the Ingenuity helicopter project, did not announce a new target date for the rotorcraft’s first test flight. Ground teams hope to determine a new target date next week for the helicopter’s first flight.

Ingenuity is a small robot drone with a mass of just 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds on Earth or 1.5 pounds in Martian gravity) that rode to Mars on the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. Perseverance landed on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 with a primary objective of locating, collecting, and sealing rock specimens for return to Earth by a future mission.

NASA tacked on the $80 million helicopter as a technology demonstration, and agency officials gave Ingenuity 31 days to complete its flight experiments from the time Perseverance deployed the rotorcraft from its belly April 3.

Since then, the six-wheeled rover has driven to an observation location roughly 200 feet ( 60 meters) from Ingenuity’s flight zone. Perseverance will try to take pictures and video of Ingenuity’s first flight, which engineers expect will last around 40 seconds as the drone takes off to an altitude of about 10 feet (3 meters), momentarily hovers there, then rotates to point in a different direction before landing back on its four carbon-fiber legs.

If the first flight is as successful as NASA hopes, Ingenuity could fly four more times in subsequent weeks, trying more daring flight profiles before wrapping up the test flight campaign in early May.

Since separating from the rover April 3, the helicopter has demonstrated it can survive on its own power generated through a small solar panel. Ground teams also successfully unlocked the rotor blades, spanning nearly 4 feet (1.2 meters) tip-to-tip, for a low-speed spin test of 50 rpm last week.

The command sequence for the high-speed spin test Friday ended early as the helicopter was trying to transition the flight computer from “pre-flight” to “flight” mode, according to NASA. A watchdog timer system designed to oversee the command sequence expired before the completion of the spin test, ending the helicopter’s pre-loaded command sequence.

NASA said Monday that engineers over the weekend decided they will reinstall Ingenuity’s flight control software with a “minor modification” to the process that boots up the helicopter’s two flight computers. The change will allow the helicopter’s hardware and software safely transition to the flight mode, officials said.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet (3.9 meters) from the rover in this image taken April 6 by the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera on the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) instrument, located at the end of the rover’s long robotic arm. Perseverance’s selfie with Ingenuity is made up of 62 individual images stitched together once they are sent back to Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Ground crews at JPL are reviewing and validating the software update in testbeds over the next two days.

Once that is complete, engineers will take “careful and deliberate steps” to upload the new software to the Perseverance rover. Perseverance has a radio base station that routes all communications between Earth and the Ingenuity helicopter.

Finally, the updated software will arrive on Ingenuity for installation into the flight computers. Then the helicopter will be ready to boot up using the new code.

“Once we have passed these milestones, we will prepare Ingenuity for its first flight, which will take several sols, or Mars days,” NASA said Monday. “Our best estimate of a targeted flight date is fluid right now, but we are working toward achieving these milestones and will set a flight date next week.

“We are confident in the team’s ability to work through this challenge and prepare for Ingenuity’s historic first controlled powered flight on another planet,” NASA said.

Ingenuity is otherwise healthy with stable power, communications, and thermal control to guard against the frigid nighttime temperatures on Mars.

“It is not unexpected for a technology demonstration like this to encounter challenges that need to be worked in real time,” NASA said. “The high-risk, high-reward approach we have taken to the first powered, controlled flight on another planet allows us to push the performance envelope in ways we could not with a mission designed to last for years, such as Perseverance.”

Quelle: SN

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Update: 14.04.2021

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NASA's Mars helicopter not quite ready for first flight on another planet

Making spaceflight history will have to wait another week. The flight of NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has been delayed due to software issues.

During a planned high-speed spin-up test of the helicopter’s rotors, engineers discovered a “command sequence issue.” The team at Jet Propulsion Laboratory also quickly discovered a solution. Basically, Ingenuity needs a re-boot.

NASA plans to set a new flight date sometime next week.

First the team will upload and reinstall Ingenuity’s flight control software. This software update will modify the process by which the two flight controllers boot up, allowing the hardware and software to safely transition to the flight state. Engineers will then load the software onto the flight controllers and then boot Ingenuity on the new flight software.

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NASA's Mars Ingenuity helicopter will be the first spacecraft to fly on another planet.  
NASA

Meanwhile, Ingenuity continues to be healthy on the surface of Mars. Critical functions such as power, communications, and thermal control are all stable.

Ingenuity arrived on the red planet Feb. 18 attached to the underside of the Martian rover Perseverance. Ingenuity's flight is considered a technology demonstration and is not critical to the science Perseverance is doing namely for searching for ancient microbial life on Mars. 

"The high-risk, high-reward approach we have taken to the first powered, controlled flight on another planet allows us to push the performance envelope in ways we could not with a mission designed to last for years such as Perseverance," NASA said in a blog post. 

Once Ingenuity is ready, the first test flight will consist of a simple take off, hover around 15 feet off the ground and land back down.  

The team plans to demonstrate the helicopter's flying abilities with several flights over a period of up to 31 days. Perseverance will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.

Quelle: Florida Today

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Update: 18.04.2021

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NASA to Attempt First Controlled Flight on Mars As Soon As Monday

NASA is targeting no earlier than Monday, April 19, for the first flight of its Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at approximately 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT).

 

Data from the first flight will return to Earth a few hours following the autonomous flight. A livestream will begin at 6:15 a.m. EDT (3:15 a.m. PDT), as the helicopter team prepares to receive the data downlink in the Space Flight Operations Facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Watch on NASA Television, the agency app, website, and social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.

 

If the flight takes place April 19, a postflight briefing will be held at 2 p.m. EDT (11 a.m. PDT).

Mars Helicopter Ingenuity blades rotating
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter's blades are made of a lightweight carbon fiber foam core to provide lift in the thin Mars atmosphere.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The participants are:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
  • Michael Watkins, JPL director
  • MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL
  • Bob Balaram, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief engineer at JPL
  • Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief pilot at JPL
  • Justin Maki, Perseverance Mars rover imaging scientist and deputy principal investigator of Mastcam-Z instrument at JPL

 

Members of the media who wish to participate in the briefing by telephone must provide their name and affiliation to Rexana Vizza at rexana.v.vizza@jpl.nasa.gov by 12 p.m. EDT (9 a.m. PDT) April 19. Due to operational schedules, limited interview opportunities will be available to media before the Monday flight. To request an interview, go to:

 

https://bit.ly/mars-landing-media

 

The public and media also may ask questions on social media during the livestream and briefing using #MarsHelicopter.

 

Find the latest schedule updates at:

 

https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter/#Watch-Online

 

The original flight date of April 11 shifted as engineers worked on preflight checks and a solution to a command sequence issue. The Perseverance rover will provide support during flight operations, taking images, collecting environmental data, and hosting the base station that enables the helicopter to communicate with mission controllers on Earth.

 

This technology demonstration is supported by NASA’s Science, Aeronautics Research, and Space Technology mission directorates. JPL, managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations for Ingenuity and the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

Quelle: NASA

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