Mars helicopter readies for takeoff

Mars helicopter readies for takeoff

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The safe arrival of the fourth Mars rover, Perseverance, marks the start of the process for launching the first ariel system on the planet.

The Ingenuity helicopter is mounted underneath the body of Perseverance, and is initially powered by the main system. Like the other batteries on the rover, Ingenuity’s six cell lithium ion pack from Sony travelled at 35 percent capacity. These, and the other batteries, will need to be charged and systems all tested in temperatures as low as 90ºC.

This means Ingenuity is set to launch in around 2 weeks time to explore more of the surface with two high resolution cameras.

The previous rovers have only travelled a few kilometres in the years they have been on the planet. The original rover Opportunity has travelled 45km since 2004 and its sibling Spirit travelled 7.7km, while the later Curiosity has travelled 20km. Autonomous operation will allow Perseverance to travel at least 20km around the crater it successfully landed inside.

With 350W of power from the 35Wh pack, Ingenuity will attempt at least one flight in its 30 day window of operation. The first milestone of safely landing having been achieved, the next is to safely deploy to the surface from the underside of the rover and autonomously keep warm through the intensely cold Martian nights. It will then autonomously charge from its solar panel and then establish communication with the Mars Helicopter Base Station on the rover.

If these milestones are met, the team will attempt the first experimental flight test on another planet. If successful, the Ingenuity team will attempt around five more test flights.

The Perseverance rover, with 2mlines of code, uses a substantial amount of European technology, including CCD image sensors from Teledyne for both the SuperCam and Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC) instruments. A Teledyne semiconductor foundry also built the JPL-designed CCD image sensor that powers SkyCam.

Next: energy system for Mars rover

In addition, all of the electricity required to operate Perseverance is provided by a power system called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) developed by Teledyne Energy Systems.

“We are proud to contribute to the discovery that will take place as a result of the Mars 2020 mission and pave the way for humans to one day visit Mars,” said Dr. Robert Mehrabian, Executive Chairman of Teledyne.

Sixty-three radiation hardened components from Analog Devices (ADI) are also used on Perseverance. “The parts span the realm of RF/μW to op amps, power management to data conversion, and everything in between,” said Kriten Chong, Marketing Manager and Applications Engineer at ADI. “We continue to work with NASA/JPL on challenging new space programs.”

Related Mars articles 

Other articles on eeNews Europe

If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles