This weekend, visitors to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California were able to see a life-size replica of the Ingenuity helicopter. Engineers even launched it on a short flight so that everyone could see how its twin brother, 50 million kilometers from Earth, made similar flights over the surface of Mars.
The demonstration of Ingenuity to the public was part of the first Explore JPL event four years after these measures were suspended due to the pandemic. Visitors could observe how a drone-like machine weighing 1.8 kg and 50 cm high made short flights, as Ingenuity on Mars. But the conditions on Earth are different from those on Mars.
In the Mars experience, #ExploreJPL visitors saw life-sized replicas of @NASAPersevere and witnessed a model of the Ingenuity #MarsHelicopter taking flight!⁰
🎧 Experience Mars from home: Put on some headphones, and take in some sounds of the Red Planet https://t.co/joBoU6KzQY pic.twitter.com/yA8rmZKCP2
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) May 1, 2023
The atmosphere on Mars is 100 times thinner than on Earth. Therefore, the engineers had to solve the difficult question of how to develop the vanes and the engine in such a way that they had enough lift and power to lift the spacecraft above the surface and make a stable flight. To achieve this, Ingenuity vanes were made of carbon fiber. They are put on two rotors that rotate at a speed of 2500 rpm – this is 5 times more than helicopters on the Earth.
In addition, during the JPL event, the pilot of a replica Martian drone stood by to control a replica aircraft. But a real Ingenuity receives flight instructions from a huge distance before deploying an on-board navigation and control system to ensure safe flight.
The event at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory was attended by more than 20 thousand people. Visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the space agency’s past, current and future missions, and also had the opportunity to chat with JPL staff and ask questions about their work.
Ingenuity made history in April 2021, when it became the first aircraft to make a controlled flight on another planet. Since then, it has flown more than 50 missions to Mars and is even helping NASA’s Perseverance ground rover perform aerial reconnaissance missions to help JPL plan safe and efficient routes across the surface of Mars.
Earlier we reported on how an unexpected “passenger” turned out to be on board Ingenuity.
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