Mars Perseverance rover helicopter reports in

This is a high-resolution still image, part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Getting to Mars and landing, though time consuming and difficult, was only the beginning. Now that the Perseverance rover is on the surface it’s time to check out its systems and prepare to get to work.

On this episode of Science Weekend we provide an update on the Perseverance rover along with the latest video reports from NASA.

The Mars Reconnaissance orbiter HiRISE captured Perseverance during its descent.
The Mars Reconnaissance orbiter HiRISE captured Perseverance during its descent. Credit: NASA.

Ingenuity helicopter checks in

This morning NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory announced that during that “the downlink, which arrived at 3:30 p.m. PST (6:30 p.m. EST) (Friday) via a connection through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, indicates that both the helicopter, which will remain attached to the rover for 30 to 60 days, and its base station (an electrical box on the rover that stores and routes communications between the rotorcraft and Earth) are operating as expected.”

Members of the NASA Mars Helicopter team inspect the flight model (the actual vehicle going to the Red Planet), inside the Space Simulator, a 25-foot-wide (7.62-meter-wide) vacuum chamber at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Feb. 1, 2019
Members of the NASA Mars Helicopter team inspect the flight model (the actual vehicle going to the Red Planet), inside the Space Simulator, a 25-foot-wide (7.62-meter-wide) vacuum chamber at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Feb. 1, 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Tim Canham, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter operations lead at JPL stated that “there are two big-ticket items we are looking for in the data: the state of charge of Ingenuity’s batteries as well as confirmation the base station is operating as designed, commanding heaters to turn off and on to keep the helicopter’s electronics within an expected range. Both appear to be working great. With this positive report, we will move forward with tomorrow’s charge of the helicopter’s batteries.”

“Ensuring that Ingenuity has plenty of stored energy aboard to maintain heating and other vital functions while also maintaining optimal battery health is essential to the success of the Mars Helicopter. The one-hour power-up will boost the rotorcraft’s batteries to about 30% of its total capacity. A few days after that, they’ll be charged again to reach 35%, with future charging sessions planned weekly while the helicopter is attached to the rover. The data downlinked during tomorrow’s charge sessions will be compared to battery-charging sessions done during cruise to Mars to help the team plan future charging sessions.”

This high-resolution image shows one of the six wheels aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which landed on Feb. 18, 2021. The image was taken by one of Perseverance’s color Hazard Cameras (Hazcams).
This high-resolution image shows one of the six wheels aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which landed on Feb. 18, 2021. The image was taken by one of Perseverance’s color Hazard Cameras (Hazcams). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

“Like much of the 4-pound (2-kilogram) rotorcraft, the six lithium-ion batteries are off-the-shelf. They currently receive recharges from the rover’s power supply. Once Ingenuity is deployed to Mars’ surface, the helicopter’s batteries will be charged solely by its own solar panel.”

“After Perseverance deploys Ingenuity to the surface, the helicopter will then have a 30-Martian-day (31-Earth-day) experimental flight test window. If Ingenuity survives its first bone-chilling Martian nights – where temperatures dip as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius) – the team will proceed with the first flight of an aircraft on another world.”

“If Ingenuity succeeds in taking off and hovering during its first flight, over 90% of the project’s goals will have been achieved. If the rotorcraft lands successfully and remains operable, up to four more flights could be attempted, each one building on the success of the last.”

Latest Perseverance rover video updates

What’s Next for Perseverance Mars Rover? Sol 1 Press Conference.
NASA Science Live: We Landed on Mars.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 28 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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