NASA's 'Mars Helicopter' Ingenuity will reach the Red Planet next month

Polycount

Posts: 2,844   +575
Staff member
Something to look forward to: NASA's latest explorer rover is set to make contact with Mars' surface next month, on February 18. It's an important step for the space agency, and not just due to the rover itself: its cargo is equally important. The Perseverance rover is carrying the first-ever "Mars Helicopter," aptly known as Ingenuity.

Ingenuity is a small, lightweight helicopter with two rotors, each made from durable carbon fiber. The rotors will spin in opposing directions, at speeds of "around 2,400 rpm," which is "many times" faster than what you'd see on any passenger helicopter on Earth.

So, why are those speeds necessary, and why is Ingenuity so light? According to NASA, Mars' extremely thin atmosphere is to blame. With much less usable air than Earth, any flying vehicle attempting to fly on the Red Planet would need considerably faster rotors to generate enough lift to get off the ground.

If the mission is a success, it could revolutionize the way scientists approach Mars exploration. So far, they've had to rely on slow-rolling, ground-based rovers to navigate, but if Ingenuity proves capable of withstanding the harsh environment of Mars, the technology might become much more common. Perhaps a more refined design could be made at a later date?

We wish NASA's engineers, and Ingenuity itself, all the best in their endeavors. Whether it lands and takes off successfully or not, you can be certain that we'll be covering Ingenuity's landing here, so stay tuned come February 18.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,734   +5,144
I still say it makes more sense to build a space ship in orbit and send it to Mars.

You could slowly deliver fuel and food/supplies for a while before sending it off to Mars. Then you can study from MARS orbit.
 

Lounds

Posts: 767   +682
I still say it makes more sense to build a space ship in orbit and send it to Mars.

You could slowly deliver fuel and food/supplies for a while before sending it off to Mars. Then you can study from MARS orbit.
Stop talking logic.
Tbf I assume it comes down to funding and multilateral agreements with countries to fund something like that. I mean it's still quite impressive that the ISS exists. The problem today is space exploration is too political. If the whole world worked together we'd probably have bases on the moon. I guess companies like space x will make things more of a reality in the next 20 years but imagine if you had the combined resources of all nations with all the top scientists.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 259   +353
Stop talking logic.
Tbf I assume it comes down to funding and multilateral agreements with countries to fund something like that. I mean it's still quite impressive that the ISS exists. The problem today is space exploration is too political. If the whole world worked together we'd probably have bases on the moon. I guess companies like space x will make things more of a reality in the next 20 years but imagine if you had the combined resources of all nations with all the top scientists.

Some already believe that we do have bases on Mars and the moon, inside lava tubes that can house cities due to their massive size....

But, those are just stories that so far haven't been proven, much like aliens living under Antarctica....lots of fun conspiracy theories out there about these things up to and including the way covid was started and why.
 

sreams

Posts: 124   +219
I still say it makes more sense to build a space ship in orbit and send it to Mars.

You could slowly deliver fuel and food/supplies for a while before sending it off to Mars. Then you can study from MARS orbit.

Spend all that time building a spacecraft, and then travelling to Mars, only to hang out in orbit?
 

Ravey

Posts: 286   +121
I'm wondering what the lifespan of this new device is? Once the rotors get clogged up with mars dust I'm guessing the thing will seieze up within a few weeks?
 

R00sT3R

Posts: 400   +1,054
Until we come up with a better way of getting into orbit, Not using pressurised tin cans with explosives, we're always going to be stuck in the slow lane when it comes to space exploration and expansion.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
I'm wondering what the lifespan of this new device is? Once the rotors get clogged up with mars dust I'm guessing the thing will seize up within a few weeks?

Supposedly NASA solved this problem way back in the 70's when they discovered the dust was eroding space suits (specifically in moving areas like elbows, etc.); but it's a good point since the first two Chinese rovers went less than 200 yards before the dust shut down their wheels/tracks. Since the Russians won't share their data we have no idea of how long their vehicles last .....
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,734   +5,144
Spend all that time building a spacecraft, and then travelling to Mars, only to hang out in orbit?


It is easier to study Mars from orbit using optical sensors or send machines down and control them in real time- rather than be forced to wait long periods of time in between signal transmissions.

Didn’t think of any of that did you???
 

DZillaXx

Posts: 216   +320
It is easier to study Mars from orbit using optical sensors or send machines down and control them in real time- rather than be forced to wait long periods of time in between signal transmissions.

Didn’t think of any of that did you???

Problem is cost to do such a thing. Would have to build an entire infrastructure just for that. And right now politicians would rather that money be spent on things that only benefit them.

If we are going to build a ship in space, it best have rotational gravity. As a trip to Mars and Back is going to be hell on the body without it. We can build it, but it seems no one wants to front the money for such a thing.... We can do a lot from orbit with real time controls. Such a craft could be used for decades too. I'd be nice for NASA to get ISS level of funding for such a project, even if it was with partners.
 

sreams

Posts: 124   +219
It is easier to study Mars from orbit using optical sensors or send machines down and control them in real time- rather than be forced to wait long periods of time in between signal transmissions.

Didn’t think of any of that did you???

Oh... I did. It just sounds incredibly boring for those waiting half a year traveling through space. It also sounds like it would be extra hard on the human body unless you come up with some gravity replacement (something Mars could provide if you landed).