Ingenuity (helicopter)

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Ingenuity
Part of Mars 2020
A robotic helicopter on the surface of Mars.
Ingenuity on Mars at Wright Brothers Field, April 7, 2021 (sol 46), photographed by Perseverance rover
TypeExtraterrestrial autonomous UAV helicopter
Serial no.IGY (civil registration)
OwnerNASA
ManufacturerJet Propulsion Laboratory
Specifications
Dimensions121 cm × 49 cm (48 in × 19 in)
Dry mass1.8 kilograms (4.0 lb)[1]
PowerSolar-charged Li ion battery; typical engine input power: 350 watt[2]
Instruments
History
Deployed
LocationJezero crater, Mars[3]
First flight
  • 19 April 2021, 07:34 UTC
Last flight
  • 29 April 2022, 04:11 UTC
Flights28
Flight time54 minutes, 16 seconds
Travelled6.98 km (4.34 mi) on Mars as of 29 April 2022

Ingenuity, nicknamed Ginny, is a small robotic helicopter operating on Mars as part of NASA's Mars 2020 mission along with the Perseverance rover, which landed on February 18, 2021. Two months later, on April 19, Ingenuity successfully completed the first powered controlled extraterrestrial flight by an aircraft—taking off vertically, hovering, and landing, for a flight duration of 39.1 seconds.[4][5][6] As of April 29, 2022, it has made 28 successful flights.[7][8] Ingenuity's 25th successful flight, which occurred on April 8, 2022, saw the helicopter set new records for highest speed and distance traveled during a single flight.[9]

Ingenuity was designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with contributions by NASA's Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center;[10] AeroVironment, Inc.; SolAero; and Lockheed Martin Space.[11] Its rotors measure 122 cm (4 ft),[1][12][13] and its entire body is 49 cm (19 in) tall.[1] Its fuselage measures 13.6 cm × 19.5 cm × 16.3 cm (5.4 in × 7.7 in × 6.4 in), with four landing legs of 38.4 cm (15.1 in) each.[1] It is operated by solar-charged batteries that power dual counter-rotating rotors mounted coaxially one above the other. During its 30-day technology demonstration, It was intended to fly up to five times at altitudes ranging from 3–5 m (10–16 ft) for up to 90 seconds each.[1][14] The expected lateral range was exceeded in the third flight, and the flight duration was exceeded in the fourth. The flights proved its ability to fly in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars, over a hundred million miles from Earth, without direct human control. Because radio signals take between 5–20 minutes to travel between Earth and Mars—depending on planetary positions[15]Ingenuity must operate autonomously, performing maneuvers planned, scripted and transmitted to it by JPL.

After the brief demonstration phase, JPL began more flights as operational demonstrations, to show how aerial scouting could benefit exploration of Mars and other worlds.[16][17] In its operational role, Ingenuity is observing areas of interest for possible examination by the Perseverance rover.[18][19][1][20] The helicopter's performance and resilience greatly exceeded expectations, enabling it to make flights for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022. In March 2022, NASA announced that it would continue to fly Ingenuity through at least September.[21]

Ingenuity travelled to Mars attached to the underside of Perseverance, which touched down at the Octavia E. Butler Landing site in the 28 mi (45 km) wide Jezero crater on February 18, 2021.[22][23][24] The helicopter was deployed to the surface on April 3, 2021,[25][26] and Perseverance drove approximately 100 m (330 ft) away to allow the drone a safe "buffer zone" in which to make its first flight.[27][28] Success was confirmed three hours later in a livestreaming TV feed from JPL Mission Control.[29][30][31] On its fourth flight, on April 30, 2021, Ingenuity became the first interplanetary spacecraft whose sound was recorded by another interplanetary spacecraft, Perseverance.[32]

Ingenuity carries a piece of fabric from the wing of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Wright Brothers' airplane used in the first controlled powered heavier-than-air flight on Earth. Ingenuity's initial take-off and landing area is named Wright Brothers Field as a tribute.[33] Before Ingenuity, the first flight of any kind on a planet beyond Earth was an unpowered balloon flight on Venus by the Soviet Vega 1 spacecraft in 1985.[34]

Design[edit]

The main components of Ingenuity
Flight characteristics of Ingenuity
Rotor speed 2400–2700 rpm[1][13][35]
Blade tip speed <0.7 Mach[36]
Originally planned operational time 1 to 5 flights within 30 sols[1][2]
Flight time Up to 167 seconds per flight[37]
Maximum range, flight 704 m (2,310 ft)
Maximum range, radio 1,000 m (3,300 ft)[20]
Maximum altitude 12 m (39 ft)
Maximum possible speed
  • Horizontal: 10 m/s (33 ft/s)[10]
  • Vertical: 3 m/s (9.8 ft/s)[10]
Battery capacity 35–40 Wh (130–140 kJ)[38]

The lower gravity of Mars (about a third of Earth's) only partially offsets the thinness of the 95% carbon dioxide atmosphere of Mars,[39] making it much harder for an aircraft to generate adequate lift. The planet's atmospheric density is about 1100 that of Earth's at sea level, or about the same as 87,000 ft (27,000 m), an altitude never reached by existing helicopters. To keep Ingenuity aloft, its specially shaped blades of enlarged size must rotate between 2400 and 2900 rpm, or about 10 times faster[12] than what is needed on Earth.[40][41] The helicopter uses contra-rotating coaxial rotors about 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter, each controlled by a separate swashplate that can affect both collective and cyclic pitch.[42]

Ingenuity has two cameras: a downward-looking black-and-white navigation camera (NAV), and a color camera, for terrain images for return to Earth (RTE).[20] Although it is an aircraft, it was constructed to spacecraft specifications to endure the acceleration and vibrations during launch.[41] It also includes radiation-resistant systems capable of operating in Mars's environment. Mars's magnetic field precludes the use of a compass for navigation, so Ingenuity relies on different sensors grouped in two assemblies. All sensors are commercial off-the-shelf units.

The Upper Sensor Assembly, with associated vibration isolation elements, is mounted on the mast close to the vehicle's center-of-mass to minimize the effects of angular rates and accelerations. It consists of a cellphone-grade Bosch BMI-160 Inertial measurement unit (IMU); and an inclinometer (Murata SCA100T-D02), which is used only on the ground prior to flight to calibrate the IMU accelerometers biases. The Lower Sensor Assembly consists of an altimeter (Garmin LIDAR Lite v3), both cameras, and a secondary IMU, all mounted directly on the Electronics Core Module (not on the mast). The down-facing Omnivision OV7251 camera supports visual odometry, where images are processed to produce navigation solutions that calculate the helicopter's position, velocity, attitude, and other variables.[20]

Ingenuity uses solar panels to recharge its batteries, which are six Sony Li-ion cells with 35–40 Wh (130–140 kJ) of energy capacity[38] (nameplate capacity of 2 Ah).[20] Flight duration is not constrained by the available power, but by the motors heating up 1 °C every second.[43]

Structural design of internal hardware of Ingenuity

The helicopter uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with a Linux operating system.[44] Among other functions, it controls the visual navigation algorithm via a velocity estimate derived from terrain features tracked with the navigation camera.[45] The Qualcomm processor is connected to two flight-control microcontroller units (MCUs) to perform necessary flight-control functions.[20]

The telecommunication system consists of two identical radios with monopole antennae for data exchange between the helicopter and rover. The radio link utilizes the low-power Zigbee communication protocols, implemented via 914 MHz SiFlex 02 chipsets mounted in both vehicles. The communication system is designed to relay data at 250 kbit/s over distances of up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft). The antenna on the helicopter's solar panel weighs 4 grams and can communicate equally in all directions.[46]

The team[edit]

The Mars Helicopter team in 2018
Some of the Ingenuity team in 2019

The history of the Mars Helicopter team dates back to 2012, when MiMi Aung was leading then JPL director Charles Elachi on a tour of the Autonomous Systems Division. Looking at the drones demonstrating onboard navigation algorithms in one of the labs, Elachi asked, "Hey, why don't we do that on Mars?" Engineer Bob Balaram briefed Elachi about feasibility, and a week later Elachi told him, "Okay, I've got some study money for you". By January 2015 NASA agreed to fund the development of a full-size model, which came to be known as the "risk reduction" vehicle. As project manager, Aung assembled a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and technicians leveraging all of NASA's expertise.[47]

The JPL team was never larger than 65 full-time-equivalent employees, but program workers at AeroVironment and NASA AMES and Langley research centers brought the total to 150.[47] Team members include:

On June 15, 2021, the team behind Ingenuity was named the 2021 winner of the John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr. Award for Space Exploration from the Space Foundation.[69]

Conceptual design[edit]

Ingenuity upper swashplate assembly
A – Rotor blade; B – Pitch link; C – Servo; D – Swashplate

NASA's JPL and AeroVironment published the conceptual design in 2014 for a scout helicopter to accompany a rover.[10][70][71] By mid-2016, $15 million was being requested to continue development of the helicopter.[72] By December 2017, engineering models of the vehicle had been tested in a simulated martian atmosphere[20][12] and models were undergoing testing in the Arctic, but its inclusion in the mission had not yet been approved or funded.[73] The United States federal budget, announced in March 2018, provided $23 million for the helicopter for one year,[74][75] and it was announced on May 11, 2018, that the helicopter could be developed and tested in time to be included in the Mars 2020 mission.[76] The helicopter underwent extensive flight-dynamics and environment testing,[20][77] and was mounted on the underside of the Perseverance rover in August 2019.[78] NASA spent about $80 million to build Ingenuity and about $5 million to operate the helicopter.[79]

In April 2020, the vehicle was named Ingenuity by Vaneeza Rupani, a girl in the 11th grade at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, who submitted an essay into NASA's "Name the Rover" contest.[80][81] Known in planning stages as the Mars Helicopter Scout,[36] or simply the Mars Helicopter,[13] the nickname Ginny later entered use in parallel to the parent rover Perseverance being affectionately referred to as Percy.[82]

Ingenuity was designed to be a technology demonstrator by JPL to assess whether such a vehicle could fly safely. Before it was built, launched and landed, scientists and managers expressed hope that helicopters could provide better mapping and guidance that would give future mission controllers more information to help with travel routes, planning and hazard avoidance.[76][83][84] Based on the performance of previous rovers through Curiosity, it was assumed that such aerial scouting might enable future rovers to safely drive up to three times as far per sol.[85][86] However, the new AutoNav capability at Perseverance significantly reduced this advantage, allowing the rover to cover more than 100 meters per sol.[87]

Preliminary tests on Earth[edit]

In 2019, preliminary designs of Ingenuity were tested on Earth in simulated Mars atmospheric and gravity conditions. For flight testing, a large vacuum chamber was used to simulate the very low pressure of the atmosphere of Mars – filled with carbon dioxide to approximately 0.60% (about 1160) of standard atmospheric pressure at sea level on Earth – which is roughly equivalent to a helicopter flying at 34,000 m (112,000 ft) altitude in the atmosphere of Earth. In order to simulate the much reduced gravity field of Mars (38% of Earth's), 62% of Earth's gravity was offset by a line pulling upwards during flight tests.[38] A "wind-wall" consisting of almost 900 computer fans was used to provide wind in the chamber.[88][89]: 1:08:05–1:08:40 

Mission profile[edit]

After deployment, the rover drove approximately 100 m (330 ft) away from the drone to allow a safe flying zone.[25][26] The Ingenuity helicopter was expected to fly up to five times during a 30-day test campaign, early in the rover's mission.[1][14]

Ingenuity hanging from the belly of the Perseverance rover during deployment to the Martian surface

Each flight was planned for altitudes ranging 3–5 m (10–16 ft) above the ground, though Ingenuity soon exceeded that planned height.[1] The first flight was a hover at an altitude of 3 m (9.8 ft), lasting about 40 seconds and including taking a picture of the rover. The first flight succeeded, and subsequent flights were increasingly ambitious as allotted time for operating the helicopter dwindled. JPL said the mission might even stop before the 30-day period ended, in the likely event that the helicopter crashed,[89]: 0:49:50–0:51:40  an outcome which did not occur. In up to 90 seconds per flight, Ingenuity could travel as far as 50 m (160 ft) downrange and then back to the starting area, though that goal was also soon exceeded with the fourth flight.[1][50] The helicopter uses autonomous control during its flights, which are telerobotically planned and scripted by operators at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It communicates with the Perseverance rover directly before and after each landing.[89]: 1:20:38–1:22:20 

After the successful first three flights, the objective was changed from technology demonstration to operational demonstration. Ingenuity flew through a transitional phase of two flights, flight 4 and 5 before transitioning to its operations demonstration phase.[90] In the operations demonstration phase that started from the 6th flight, the mission goal shifted towards supporting the rover science mission by mapping and scouting the terrain.[91] While Ingenuity would do more to help Perseverance, the rover would pay less attention to the helicopter and stop taking pictures of it in flight. JPL managers said the photo procedure took an "enormous" amount of time, slowing the project's main mission of looking for signs of ancient life.[92] On 30 April 2021, the fourth flight successfully captured numerous color photos and explored the surface with its black-and-white navigation camera.[50] On May 7, Ingenuity successfully flew to a new landing site.

In September 2021 after 12 flights, the mission was extended indefinitely.[93] In March 2022 after 21 flights, NASA said it would continue flying Ingenuity until at least the coming September. The area of the helicopter's next goal is more rugged than the relatively flat terrain it flew over in its first year of operation. The ancient fan-shaped river delta has jagged cliffs, angled surfaces and projecting boulders. Ingenuity will help the mission team decide which route Perseverance should take to the top of the delta and may aid in analyzing potential science targets. Software updates will eliminate the helicopter's 50-foot altitude limit, allow it to change speed in flight, and improve its understanding of terrain texture below it. NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said less than a year earlier "we didn’t even know if powered, controlled flight of an aircraft at Mars was possible." He said the transformation in understanding what the aircraft can do is "one of the most historic in the annals of air and space exploration."[21]

Cameras and photography[edit]

Count of stored images from both cameras per each flight[94]
Flight No. Date (UTC) and Mars 2020 mission sol Photographs Comments
b/w
NAV
color
RTE
Before April 19, 2021 (sol 58) 6[95] 6[96] Preflight camera tests
1 April 19, 2021 (sol 58) 15
2 April 22, 2021 (sol 61) 17 3 The first color photo session
3 April 25, 2021 (sol 64) 24 4
4 April 30, 2021 (sol 69) 62 5
5 May 7, 2021 (sol 76) 128 6
6 May 23, 2021 (sol 91) 106 8
7 June 8, 2021 (sol 107) 72 0 RTE was turned off[55]
8 June 22, 2021 (sol 121) 186 0
9 July 5, 2021 (sol 133) 193 10
10 July 24, 2021 (sol 152) 190 10 Five pairs of color images of Raised Ridges taken to make anaglyphs.[56]
11 August 5, 2021 (sol 164) 194 10
12 August 16, 2021 (Sol 174) 197[97] 10 Five pairs of color images of Séítah taken to make anaglyphs.[57]
13 September 5, 2021 (Sol 193) 191[98] 10
September 16, 2021 (Sol 204) to October 23, 2021 (Sol 240) 9 1 preflight 14 tests
14 October 24, 2021 (Sol 241) 182
15 November 6, 2021 (Sol 254) 191 10
November 15, 2021 (Sol 263) 1 ground color photo[99]
16 November 21, 2021 (Sol 268) 185 9
November 27, 2021 (Sol 274) 1 ground color photo[99]
17 December 5, 2021 (Sol 282) 192
18 December 15, 2021 (Sol 292) 184
December 20, 2021 (Sol 297) to February 3, 2022 (Sol 341) 10 1 preflight 19 tests and post-dust storm debris removal operations
19 February 8, 2022 (Sol 346) 92
20 February 25, 2022 (Sol 362) 110 10
February 27, 2022 (Sol 364) 1 preflight 21 tests
21 March 10, 2022 (Sol 375) 191
Ingenuity's two cameras

Ingenuity has two commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) cameras on board. The Sony IMX 214 with 4208 x 3120 pixel resolution is a color camera with a global shutter to make terrain images for return to Earth (RTE). The Omnivision OV7251 (640 × 480) VGA is the downward-looking black and white rolling shutter navigation camera (NAV), which supplies the onboard computer of the helicopter with the raw data essential for flight control.[20]

While the RTE color camera is not necessary for flight and may be switched off (as in flights 7 and 8[55]), the NAV camera works throughout each flight, catching the first frame before takeoff and the last frame after landing. Its frame rate is synchronized with blade rotation to ease online image processing.

During flight, all NAV frames must be carefully stored in the onboard helicopter computer, with each frame assigned the unique timestamp of its creation. Loss of a single NAV image timestamp was an anomaly that caused the helicopter to move erratically during flight 6.[60]

The monopole antenna of the base station is mounted on a bracket in the right rear part of the rover

The longer a flight lasts, the more NAV photos must be stored. Each new record flight duration automatically means a record number of images taken by the NAV camera. The frequency and timing of the camera's operations are predetermined not for the sake of records, but due to the technical necessity. A huge number of NAV files does not overload the local storage of the helicopter. Less than 200 NAV files are uploaded to NASA storage after each flight (starting with the eighth flight), and the total volume is only about five megabytes.[97] The limitations are imposed by weakness of local telecommunications: when landed, the helicopter relays data to the rover in a slow mode of 20 kbit/s.[20] Another significant limitation is caused by the location of the antenna on the side of the rover. If turned wrong side to the helicopter, the rover body may impede signal reception.

Most of the NAV files are not transmitted to the rover base station for return to Earth. JPL explained that navigation images are used by Ingenuity's flight computer and then discarded unless controllers tell the helicopter to store them for later use.[50] Ingenuity captures navigation images at 30 frames per second and saves one image approximately every 700 milliseconds to be transmitted later to the Earth and released to the public.[100] From more than 4000 NAV files acquired on flight four, only 62 were stored.[101]

Small multicolored pebbles around Ingenuity at parking sites on sols 263 and 274

With the end of the flight technology demonstration, Perseverance project manager Jennifer Trosper relinquished her team's responsibilities for photographing Ingenuity to concentrate exclusively on the rover science mission of searching for signs of ancient Martian life. Without pictures from the rover, the flight team relied more heavily on photos taken by the helicopter NAV camera to confirm Ingenuity's location. The helicopter, however, does not create or refine the maps, but rather, depends upon work coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center and performed by the NASA Mars and Lunar Cartography Working Groups.[citation needed]

Ingenuity shadow captured duringflight 3
Ingenuity flight 9, the 2nd longest flight on Ingenuity

To support the Mars-2020 mission, USGS used photos by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to produce Context Camera (CTX) and Digital Terrain Models (DTM) and orthoimage mosaics. Those images were used by the Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) feature on the Perseverance descent vehicle and helped determine the safest landing location.[102] Using maps created from photos and radar elevation data previously acquired by the MRO and other NASA missions, planetary cartographers manually correlate them with terrain features seen by Ingenuity's small and lens-distorted NAV images.[citation needed] After each NAV frame is assigned a georeference, the resulting flight maps are shown at NASA's Mars-2020 tracking service.[103] NAV frames from Ingenuity are also used to produce moving images that show the Martian terrain passing under Ingenuity during its flights.

In November 2021 the Ingenuity team started to supply scientists a new kind of photographic materials — the color photos taken on the ground during the interflight periods. By December, 3 two such photos were received on Earth, the first one acquired on November 15 (sol 263)[99] and another on November 27 (sol 274).

Video footage of flight 13 (September 5, 2021) from Perseverance Mastcam-Z at a 300 m distance

Unlike Perseverance, Ingenuity does not have a special stereo camera for taking twin photos for 3D pictures simultaneously. However, the helicopter has made such images by taking duplicate color photos of the same terrain while hovering in slightly offset positions, as in flight 11, or by taking an offset picture on the return leg of a roundtrip flight, as in flight 12.[104]

As of December 16, 2021, 2091 black-and-white images from the navigation camera[94] and 104 color images from the terrain camera (RTE)[105] have been published.

Operational history[edit]

Comparison of total distance traveled between Ingenuity and Perseverance.[a]
Tracks and locations of Perseverance and Ingenuity as of April 12, 2022[103]

Perseverance dropped the debris shield protecting Ingenuity on March 21, 2021, and the helicopter deployed from the underside of the rover to the martian surface on April 3, 2021.[106] That day both cameras of the helicopter were tested taking their first b/w and color photos of the floor of Jezero Crater in the shadow of the rover.[107][96]

Ingenuity's rotor blades were successfully unlocked on April 8, 2021 (mission sol 48), and the helicopter performed a low-speed rotor spin test at 50 rpm.[108][109][110][111][112]

A high-speed spin test was attempted on April 9, but failed due to the expiration of a watchdog timer, a software measure to protect the helicopter from incorrect operation in unforeseen conditions.[113] On April 12, JPL said it identified a software fix to correct the problem.[28] To save time, however, JPL decided to use a workaround procedure, which managers said had an 85% chance of succeeding and would be "the least disruptive" to the helicopter.[48]

On April 16, 2021, Ingenuity successfully passed the full-speed 2400 rpm rotor spin test while remaining on the surface.[114][30] Three days later, April 19, JPL flew the helicopter for the first time. The watchdog timer problem occurred again when the fourth flight was attempted. The team rescheduled the flight, which succeeded on April 30. On June 25, JPL said it had uploaded a software update the previous week to permanently fix the watchdog problem, and that a rotor spin test and the eighth flight confirmed that the update worked.[55]

The Ingenuity team plans to fly the helicopter every two to three weeks during its indefinitely extended mission.[93] The helicopter's longer-than-expected flying career lasted into a seasonal change on Mars, when the atmospheric density at its location became even lower. The flight team prepared by commanding Ingenuity to ground-test a faster rotor blade rotation, needed for sufficient lift. JPL said the higher planned flight speed of 2700 rpm would pose new risks, including vibration, power consumption and aerodynamic drag if the blade tips approach the speed of sound.[35] The test speed was 2800 rpm, giving a margin for increase if the intended flight speed of 2700 is not enough. Ingenuity faced another challenge to remain functional during the Martian winter and solar conjunction, when Mars moves behind the Sun, blocking communications with Earth and forcing the rover and helicopter to halt operations. The shutdown happened in mid-October 2021, for which preparations started in mid-September.[115][116] The helicopter remained stationary at its location 575 feet (175 meters) away from Perseverance and communicated its status weekly to the rover for health checks.[117] JPL intended to continue flying Ingenuity since it survived solar conjunction.[118][119] NASA leadership has acknowledged that extending the mission adds to the original Ingenuity budget of $80 million but has stated that any increase would be minimal compared to what NASA is learning.[120]

The start time of a flight is chosen depending on temperature management of the batteries, which need to warm up after the night. During Martian summer lower air density imposed a higher load on the motors, so flights were shifted from noon (LMST 12:30) to morning (LMST 9:30) and limited to 130 seconds to not overheat the motors.[121]

On May 3, 2022, the helicopter unexpectedly failed for the first time to communicate with the rover, following the 28th flight on April 29. JPL determined that Ingenuity's rechargeable batteries suffered a power drop, most likely because of a seasonal increase in atmospheric dust reducing sunshine on its solar panel and due to lower temperatures as winter approached. When the battery pack’s state of charge dropped below a lower limit, the helicopter’s field-programmable gate array (FPGA) powered down, resetting the mission clock, which lost sync with the base station on the rover. Contact was re-established on May 5. Controllers decided to turn off the helicopter's heaters for several nights to conserve power as the batteries recharged over the next few days, accepting the risk of exposing components to nighttime's extreme cold.[122]

List of flights[edit]

Tributes to the Wright brothers[edit]

NASA and JPL officials described the first Ingenuity flight as their "Wright Brothers moment", by analogy to the first successful airplane flight on Earth.[33][123] A small piece of the wing cloth from the Wright brothers' 1903 Wright Flyer is attached to a cable underneath Ingenuity's solar panel.[124] In 1969, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong carried a similar Wright Flyer artifact to the Moon in the Lunar Module Eagle.

NASA named Ingenuity's first take-off and landing airstrip Wright Brothers Field, which the UN agency ICAO gave an airport code of JZRO for Jezero Crater,[125] and the drone itself a type designator of IGY, call-sign INGENUITY.[126][127][128]

Future Mars rotocraft design[edit]

Mars Science Helicopter, Ingenuity's proposed successor

The Ingenuity technology demonstrator could form the foundation on which more capable aircraft might be developed for aerial exploration of Mars and other planetary targets with atmospheres like Mars.[76][20][129] The next generation of rotorcraft could be in the range between 5 and 30 kg (11 and 66 lb) with science payloads between 0.5 and 5 kg (1.1 and 11.0 lb).[130] These potential aircraft could have direct communication to an orbiter and may or may not continue to work with a landed asset.[26] Future helicopters could be used to explore special regions with exposed water ice or brines, where Mars microbial life could potentially survive.[79][20]

Data collected by Ingenuity is supporting planning of a future helicopter design by engineers at JPL, NASA's Ames Research Center and AeroVironment. The Mars Science Helicopter, a proposed successor to Ingenuity, would be a hexacopter, or six-rotor helicopter, with a mass of about 30 kg (66 lb) compared to 1.8 kg (4.0 lb) of Ingenuity. Mars Science Helicopter could carry as much as 5 kg (11 lb) of science payloads and fly up to 10 km (6.2 mi) per flight.[130]

Gallery[edit]

Audio[edit]

Mars helicopter Ingenuity, heard flying on Mars on its fourth flight

Videos[edit]

Deployment sequence[edit]

March 29, 2021: after Ingenuity was extended vertically into place after being rotated outward from its horizontal position on the belly of the rover, Perseverance takes photos for the panorama, catching in its field of view the debris shield which protected Ingenuity during landing and was dropped on March 21, 2021
Ingenuity helicopter: out from under the Perseverance rover
Before releasing Ingenuity the rover had to get rid of the pan which protected the feasible RIMFAX equipment during the landing stage
Debris shield released and dropped
Ingenuity swings down, with two of its four legs extended
Ingenuity with all legs extended
Pre-flight testing
Before tests
Rotor blades are unlocked for tests and flying
The slow-speed (50 rpm) spin up test on sol 48
The high-speed (2400 rpm) spin up test on sol 55

Maps of flights[edit]

The flight zone of the technical demonstration and transitional stage
Wright Brothers Field and the overlook location
View of the field from the rover
Second helipad[b]
Flights' paths of the operational demonstration stage and HiRise images of Ingenuity
Flight profile for Ingenuity's Flight 15
Topography between Mars helicopter and rover for Flight 17
Positioning before the 2021 solar conjunction
R210 is the rover position on sol 210;
H163
1
, H174
2
and H193
3
means 1st, 2nd and 3rd landing sites of Ingenuity on the Field H on sols 163, 174 and 193 respectively
Ingenuity captured by Hirise camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at Airfield M on Feb. 26, 2022

Images by Perseverance[edit]

Flights 1–4 viewed by the Perseverance rover
Flight 2 (22 April 2021)
Flight 3 (25 April 2021)
Flight 4 (30 April 2021)
Flights 5–8 viewed by the Perseverance rover
Flight 5 (7 May 2021)
Landed after flight 5 at Airfield B (7 May 2021)
One day after sixth flight (Sol 92)
Four days after 7th flight (Sol 111)
Seven days after 8th flight (Sol 127)

Images by Ingenuity[edit]

First Images[c]
The first color image (April 4, 2021)[d]
In-flight image (19 April 2021, altitude 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in))
Landing after the first flight (19 April 2021)
First color aerial photo (22 April 2021, altitude 5.2 m (17 ft), flight 2)
Flights 3-9
Flight 3, rover is seen left-up from the 5.0 m (16.4 ft) height
Heading towards Airfield B (flight 4, 30 April 2021)
Flight 6, view from 10 m (33 ft) towards Séítah
Flight 9, flying over the Séítah (July 5, 2021)
Perseverance rover (left) viewed about 85 m (279 ft) away from 5.0 m (16.4 ft) height (April 25, 2021)
Flights 10–13
Flight 10 over ridges
Flight 12 over Séítah
Flight 13 rover view
After conjunction: preflight tests and flights 14-16
Flight 16 (21 November 2021)
Post-flight 16 rover view
Entry-descent-landing debris
Ingenuity photographed the spacecraft backshell and parachute (April 19) and other apparent EDL debris (April 3).[131]
Crater Ridgeline
Flight 27 − Fortun Ridge
(23 April 2022)

Animations[edit]

Miscellaneous animations
Landing after fifth flight at Airfield B (7 May 2021)
Flight 9, animation from the flight images
Flight 11 rover
Flight 11 ten slides

Self-portraits by Perseverance[e][edit]

Mars 2020 in Jezero crater on Mars — Self-portraits of the Perseverance rover showing Ingenuity helicopter
Ingenuity helicopter drop site, Wright Brothers Field
(April 2021)

Miscellaneous Ingenuity-related images[edit]

Aircraft certification of Ingenuity to fly on Mars
"Nominal Pilot's Logbook for Planets and Moons"
Ingenuity logbook entries for flights 9 and 10
Ingenuity's first flight altimeter data showing the flight period
(19 April 2021)
Ingenuity's second flight test data[f]
(22 April 2021)
Mars Helicopter JPL insignia

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Flights 1, 2 and 14 are not seen because they include little, if any, horizontal movement.
  2. ^ HiRISE's view of Ingenuity's fourth flight path paving the way for it to move to second airfield on its fifth flight
  3. ^ All images taken by Ingenuity are from either its black-and-white downward-facing navigation camera[94] or from horizon-facing color camera;[105] landing legs are seen at the side edges of images
  4. ^ Perseverance Rover wheels are clearly seen in top corners
  5. ^ Only the self-portraits of Perseverance showing Ingenuity
  6. ^ This is an animated gif containing sequence of images on second test flight. First image shows Ingenuity's rotor power during flight two. Second image shows Ingenuity's horizontal position relative to start during flight one hover. Third image shows Ingenuity's collective control during flight one. Fourth image shows Ingenuity's lower cyclic control on flight one. Similar cyclic controls applied on the upper rotor. Fifth image shows Ingenuity's estimate of vertical velocity during flight two.

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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Status reports[edit]

External links[edit]