‘Touchdown confirmed!’: Nasa’s Mars Ingenuity drops from Perseverance belly. List of milestones
- Nasa JPL tweeted the photograph of Ingenuity after it was dropped from the rover's belly that ended its journey of almost 471 million kilometres with Perseverance.
Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Sunday confirmed the touchdown of the Ingenuity helicopter, which was attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover, on the Martian surface. Nasa JPL tweeted the photograph of Ingenuity after it was dropped from the rover's belly that ended its journey of almost 471 million kilometres with Perseverance. The visible track shows how the rover drove away from Ingenuity after dropping it onto the airfield.
“#MarsHelicopter touchdown confirmed! Its 293 million mile (471 million km) journey aboard @NASAPersevere ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 cm) from the rover's belly to the surface of Mars today. Next milestone? Survive the night,” tweeted Nasa JPL.
Surviving the night after getting dropped will be one of the most important milestones for Ingenuity since it has to run its own heater from its own battery. Bob Balaram, the chief engineer for the Mars helicopter project at Nasa's JPL, said in a blog post that the Ingenuity team will be “anxiously waiting to hear from the helicopter” the next day before it targets other milestones.
Here’s the list of milestones Ingenuity needs to complete before its first flight on Mars:
1. Keeping itself warm autonomously through the intensely cold Martian night (as low as minus 90 degrees Celsius).
2. Charging autonomously using its solar panel high-tech solar panel.
3. Confirming communications with flight operators on Earth via the base station on the rover.
4. Confirming the energy and power model over multiple Martian days as operators monitor daily power consumption, solar energy, and battery levels.
5. Unlocking rotor blades and spin them up for the first time on Mars while still on the surface at a lower speed needed for flight.
6. Spinning up rotor blades at planned flight speed for the first time on Mars while still on the surface.
7. If all goes well, finally lifting off for the first time in the thin Martian atmosphere and landing successfully
Nasa has announced that the first scheduled flight of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars will take place no earlier than April 11. An interactive webinar preview of the flight will be held at 11:00pm on April 5 via Zoom. Experts will come together to discuss the helicopter at 10:30pm on April 8 which will be streamed on the YouTube channel of Nasa JPL’s Education Office.