Extreme cold on Mars prevents Ingenuity from taking to the air

The small hardy Martian Ingenuity helicopter is going through the winter period. The helicopter temporarily stopped flying in July because it was faced with low seasonal temperatures and an increase in dust in the atmosphere. Both obstacles limited its ability to charge the battery. The temperature in the Jezero crater is still low and drops to -86°C at night, but the Ingenuity team is preparing for a short 30th flight.

Ingenuity on Airfield D. Photo: NASA

“The 30th flight will be a short jump that will check the condition of our system after we have survived the winter. The take-off will also help to clean the solar panels from the dust that settled on them after the 29th flight,” commented Teddy Tsanetos, head of the Ingenuity team.

Ingenuity completed its 29th flight on June 11. Since then, the aircraft has not ascended into the sky of Mars. So the team did some checks to make sure everything was working properly. The checks included the rotation of the screws at low speeds on August 6, and on August 15 – at high speeds. During testing, the helicopter remained on the surface, but unscrewed its propellers to the speed used during the actual flight. The results of the inspections did not reveal any shortcomings.

Dusty solar panels of the Ingenuity helicopter. Photo: NASA

During the thirtieth flight, the helicopter will be in the air for about 30 seconds, will rise to a height of 5 meters and fly 2 meters before landing. The purpose of the flight will be to test whether the helicopter can land accurately before moving on to more endurance missions. Once this is confirmed, the helicopter will be able to return to longer flights, for example, along the Jezero Delta, which the Perseverance rover is currently exploring.

“With a higher battery level, there will be longer flights. Eventually, Ingenuity will be able to power its internal heaters during the night, which will prevent electronics from freezing in the Martian cold every evening,” added Teddy Tsanetos.

Earlier we reported how the NASA Ingenuity Mars helicopter received a prestigious award.

According to NASA

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