It’s all powered up!
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Ingenuity helicopter, it's very own equipment essential for the Mars 2020 mission, has been reported alive and well after undergoing a power-up and charging process as it travels aboard its very own spacecraft on the way to the Red Planet, the space agency announced in a release, August 7.
It has been seven days or more over a week already of its planned seven-month journey traversing through the vast emptiness of space when the Ingenuity copter, aboard with its pal the Perseverance rover, had conducted a checkout and recharge of its built-in power system.
Scientists and specialists over at NASA received the signals sent from the mission from space, thus signifying a very significant milestone for the mission. Now, it is ‘live’ and ready for its remaining voyage to Mars.
While on the way to the Red Planet, our Ingenuity @NASAMars helicopter had its batteries checked out and was powered up for the first time in space.— NASA (@NASA) August 13, 2020
🚀 Keep up with the #CountdownToMars: https://t.co/71QFvlVxvA pic.twitter.com/dXplEC5nYo
The whole ordeal took eight hours to complete. The team over at NASA performed a series of tests on the craft before setting the batteries at 35%. It will maintain this low charge state during the whole trip.
Tim Canham, operations lead for Ingenuity, was happy with the results of the test. He added, in the same release, that the team will do routine checks every two weeks to check out with the craft.
What happens next?
This is a crucial first step for the helicopter for which it succeeded. Now it has to prepare for the harsher environment on the Red Planet. Upon arrival, it will be deployed to its landing point and will charge itself to the battery’s maximum limit using a built-in solar panel system. If it is able to weather through the expected cold nights on the Martian landscape, it will proceed to its purpose – testing.
Ingenuity only has thirty-one days in its experimental flight-test window. During this timeframe, it will be monitored at all times. If everything goes well, then it will prove that powered and controlled flight by an aircraft on Mars is possible. This will open a lot of avenues for specialists to do possible missions to the planet with better-designed equipment in the future.
Ingenuity, a remarkable feat of engineering, comes alongside with the Perseverance. Perseverance is managed by the California Institute of Technology. Private aerospace company, Lockheed Martin Space, is a partner in the program. Meanwhile, the Ingenuity helicopter was built and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.