Flight tests of a helicopter for Mars completed successfully

Flight tests of a helicopter for Mars completed successfully

NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Testing Media Reel

Flight tests of a helicopter for Mars completed successfully

NASA has successfully tested a helicopter that will fly on the surface of Mars from 2021. The tests took place in a special chamber that mimics the atmospheric and physical conditions of the red planet..

In 2020, the aircraft will be delivered to the surface of another world inside the rover’s hull. However, conditions there are significantly different from those on earth. The device should function at temperatures down to -90 °C 100 times less dense atmosphere and with a third of gravity, familiar to us.

The tests took place in a cylindrical vacuum chamber with a diameter of 7.62 m, from which all the air was first pumped out, and then filled with carbon dioxide, which prevails on Mars. For gravitational unloading, a motorized belt was attached to the helicopter, which served as a permanent tug, equivalent to 2/3 of the force of gravity.

Despite its small size, the model consists of more than 1,500 elements made of carbon, aluminum, silicon, copper, foil and foam, so scientists were worried if they could work as a single mechanism in such extreme conditions. Although everything passed, as predicted by the engineering models, but in total, all flights lasted only about 1 minute and passed at a height of 5 cm, but this was enough to make sure that it was functioning normally..

The goal of the Mars Helicopter project is to study the concept of flying vehicles in real conditions of the red planet. To do this, he will make short flights (90 seconds each), and the rover with which he will arrive, will be engaged in a geological assessment of the landing zone, looking for signs of ancient life, natural resources and possible threats to future researchers.

Formerly Elon Musk published a video of the first tests of the new Raptor rocket engine for flights of Falcon 9 and Starship Mars missions, powered by oxygen and methane.

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech