For the first time ever, NASA has tested its next generation of Mars helicopters in two different worlds. A new rotor for helicopters that will be used in future missions was tested recently at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, while real-life flight simulation was conducted on Mars through the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which broke altitude and airspeed records during an experimental flight. The NASA team was surprised by the performance of the new Mars helicopter while conducting the test. Know the details.
According to a NASA report, the space agency created a Mars atmosphere on Earth with the help of JPL's 25-foot wide, 85-foot-tall space simulator where the Surveyor, Voyager, and Cassini were tested. The new rotor’s blades were used for the testing which was 4 inches long, greater than the ingenuity Mars Helicopter. The test was monitored for three weeks in September, during which NASA monitored sensors, meters, and cameras of the blades at different high speeds and pitch angles.
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Tyler Del Sesto, Sample Recovery Helicopter deputy test conductor at JPL said, “We spun our blades up to 3,500 rpm, which is 750 revolutions per minute faster than the Ingenuity blades have gone. These more efficient blades are now more than a hypothetical exercise. They are ready to fly.”
On the other hand, the ingenuity Mars Helicopter is exceeding expectations on Mars as the team conducts new flight tests. NASA’s ingenuity helicopter was slated to conduct studies for 30 days, however, the mission has completed more than two years on Mars. The ingenuity teams have been testing new capabilities of the helicopter by increasing the maximum airspeed and altitude. These tests could help scientists to build a robust helicopter for future missions.
So far, the Mars helicopter has achieved 66 flights, and with the 61st flight, it achieved a new altitude record of 78.7 feet. Additionally, the team is also testing the helicopter’s landing speed for slower landing. The team in December also plans to test Ingenuity’s two high-speed flights with a special set of pitch-and-roll angles.
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