First post! ..... I mean First Flight!
------------> Weigh 2 Obv!
Ingenuity has successfully performed a solar-powered autonomous flight on Mars, NASA confirmed on Monday. The dual-bladed helicopter took off from the Jezero Crater at 0734 UTC, marking the first time in history an Earth-built aircraft has flown in skies away from Sol d. NASA has now named the patch of Martian surface that …
Without any form of stabiliser they're almost impossible to fly. But I think the real challenge here was designing to work with Mars' air pressure and gravity. Yes, they could test in chambers with the right air pressure but manoeuvrability with little or no lift is very difficult. OTOH depending how things go they might be able change materials and go with weaker but lighter blades.
Not just the helicopter. I was watching the initial landing. Sounds to me like it was using video cameras to recognise terrain that no human has ever walked upon, in order to land itself in the right place.
The whole bloody thing is amazing. Blessing Mars with a UFO of its own is just the icing on the cake.
Yes, it was... but it wasn't _quite_ as clever as it looked: mission control had uploaded a map of the area with safe areas to land marked on it, so rather than trying to interpret what it was seeing and decide whether it was safe or not, instead it just had to interpret what it was seeing and find its location on the map. Thus demonstrating that most intelligence can be trivially substituted for with a lookup table.
Don't get me wrong, though: it's still bloody amazing.
At least there will be no argument about who was the first, as there is on earth. Ader, etc. pre-dating the Wright bros.
Telephone: Antonio Meucci sold the working telephone, that he had been using to look after his ill wife, to Alexander Graham Bell
Light bulb: Joseph Swan invented and then Edison commercialised in the US
Engine design (pulse jet): Victorian England children's toy and the reinvented in the US by GE circa 2013
The claim that this is some sort of first seems to wilfully ignore not only the rubber bowered balsa plane that was launched by Beagle, but also the many aeronautical achievement's of the Martians back in the day before the unfortunate 'dry up and lose our atmosphere' event 3.7 billion years ago. The first flight of Zog's ornithopter was easily 5.6 zarkons, dwarfing any attempt of he puny earthlings.
The history of invention is littered with concurrent developments – Newton and Leibniz can both be credited with calculus – and products out of time: da Vinci's helicopter, but also the patent for the fax machine, and I think the Chinese have a long list of stuff they came up hundreds of years before anyone else.
But sometimes what only matters is being in the right place at the right time and you are Bill Gates and I claim my £5.
"Light bulb: Joseph Swan invented and then Edison commercialised in the US"
You're probably thinking of Humphry Davy, who invented the incandescent light well before Swan was born, although the basic principle was demonstrated decades earlier again, and many people were working on the idea before either Swan or Edison got involved. Swan was the first to make electric lights commercially successful, but he certainly didn't invent them. And there really isn't any argument about whether Edison invented the lightbulb - his first patent was specifically for an improvement in electric lights. He might have been a highly ruthless and anti-competitive businessman, but even he never claimed to have actually invented lightbulbs.
That aside, there absolutely can and will be argument about who was first to fly on Mars, as you could see from the comments on any previous articles. In particular, the Mars Science Laboratory skycrane has a pretty good claim to being the first powered flight on Mars, which would make Ingenuity third. That said, Ingenuity will certainly get a decent helping of firsts - first helicopter, first non-rocket-powered flight, first electric flight, first thing to make multiple flights (hopefully), and no doubt plenty of others.
"Engine design (pulse jet): Victorian England children's toy and the reinvented in the US by GE circa 2013"
I think you're forgetting that there was "quite a bit" of work on pulse jets in Germany between 1939 and 1945. And many other uses of them by hobbyists before GE's work.
Of course there's also Colin Furze with his 2013 Jet Bike.
Because they always do, right?
Serious question: how does it do it's altimetry? (come to think of it, how do terrestrial models do it?)
- Barometer; tricky as Mars has both such a low surface pressure and a slow lapse rate
- Sonar; probably not going to work well at low pressure
- Laser rangefinder?
- Integrate acceleration (twice)? That could work but it's susceptible to drift, I suspect
- Some combination of all these?
What have I forgotten?
I would imagine it to be laser based. Things like the VL53L0X are extremely small and lightweight, so easy to incorporate.
Could also be radar based as that wouldn't necessitate an exposed sensor.
Disclaimer: I have no idea what they've used, but I have played with range sensors here on Earth.
According to wikipedia it is a laser rangefinder: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingenuity_(helicopter)
Specifically, one of these: https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/557294
To be honest, if I was Garmin, I'd have a "As Used On Mars" banner all over that page!
Off-the-shelf Lidar apparently: https://www.garmin.com/en-US/blog/general/garmin-on-mars/
In the absence of any additional hardware, my original guess would have been the scale of own shadow in downwards facing camera. Assuming it stays in shot, this would be ok for the altitudes they are working at.
Yep, a whole heap of things that have to go completely right for it to work. But, don't forget: this isn't the first time something has landed on Mars: the rover can also help, not to mention to satellites in orbit. Not enough for an MPS, perhaps, but the high resolution imagery and atmospheric analysis will be useful.
But still a fantastic achievement!
The Wright Brothers' impressive claim to fame is for the first "manned" powered flight on Earth.
But it was predated by more than 50 years by the first powered flight on Earth in 1848 by John Stringfellow.
That surely is the correct precedent for Ingenuity's achievement.
Wouldn't the lander for Curiosity count as the first controlled flight on Mars? It hovered to lower the rover before flying itself off somewhere to "land".
With the same landing system used for Perseverance, it would make this the 3rd controlled flight, the 1st rotary controlled flight, or the 1st controlled landing that then allows a subsequent controlled flight.
Pondering what services to switch off to keep your laptop going just that bit longer? NASA engineers can relate, having decided the Mars InSight lander will go out on a high: they plan to burn through the remaining power to keep the science flowing until the bitter end.
The InSight lander is in a precarious position regarding power. A build-up of dust has meant the spacecraft's solar panels are no longer generating anywhere near enough power to keep the batteries charged. The result is an automatic shutdown of the payload, although there is a chance InSight might still be able to keep communicating until the end of the year.
Almost all of InSight's instruments have already been powered down, but the seismometer remains active and able to detect seismic activity on Mars (such as Marsquakes.) The seismometer was expected to be active until the end of June, at which point it too would be shut-down in order to eke out the lander's dwindling supply of power just a little longer.
NASA is finally ready to launch its unmanned Orion spacecraft and put it in the orbit of the Moon. Lift-off from Earth is now expected in late August using a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
This launch, a mission dubbed Artemis I, will be a vital stage in the Artemis series, which has the long-term goal of ferrying humans to the lunar surface using Orion capsules and SLS technology.
Earlier this week NASA held a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) for the SLS vehicle – fueling it and getting within 10 seconds of launch. The test uncovered 13 problems, including a hydrogen fuel leak in the main booster, though NASA has declared that everything's fine for a launch next month.
The software on ESA's Mars Express spacecraft is to be upgraded after nearly two decades, giving the orbiter capabilities to hunt for water beneath the planet and study its larger moon, Phobos.
Mars Express was launched on June 2, 2003, and was initially made up of two components: the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2 lander. Unfortunately, the lander failed to make contact with Earth after it was released and arrived at the surface of the Red Planet. It is presumed lost. The orbiter, however, is still working after 19 years in service, spinning around Mars.
Now, engineers at the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), Italy, are revamping the spacecraft's software. The upgrade will allow the Mars Express Orbiter to continue searching for water locked beneath the Martian surface using its MARSIS radio-wave instrument and monitor the planet's closest satellite, Phobos, more efficiently. MARSIS is today operated by INAF and funded by the Italian Space Agency.
NASA has chosen the three companies it will fund to develop a nuclear fission reactor ready to test on the Moon by the end of the decade.
This power plant is set to be a vital component of Artemis, the American space agency's most ambitious human spaceflight mission to date. This is a large-scale project to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, and establish a long-term presence on Earth's natural satellite.
NASA envisions [PDF] astronauts living in a lunar base camp, bombing around in rovers, and using it as a launchpad to explore further out into the Solar System. In order for this to happen, it'll need to figure out how to generate a decent amount of power somehow.
Sadly for NASA's mission to take samples from the asteroid Psyche, software problems mean the spacecraft is going to miss its 2022 launch window.
The US space agency made the announcement on Friday: "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11."
While it appears the software and testbeds are now working, there just isn't enough time to get everything done before a SpaceX Falcon Heavy sends the spacecraft to study a metallic-rich asteroid of the same name.
NASA's Moon rocket is to trundle back into its shed today after a delay caused by concerns over the crawlerway.
The massive transporter used to move the Space Launch System between Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and launchpad requires a level pathway and teams have been working on the inclined pathway leading to the launchpad where the rocket currently resides to ensure there is an even distribution of rocks to support the mobile launcher and rocket.
The latest wet dress rehearsal was completed on June 20 after engineers "masked" data from sensors that would have called a halt to proceedings. Once back in the VAB, engineers plan to replace a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical. The stack will then roll back to the launchpad for what NASA fervently hopes is the last time before a long hoped-for launch in late August.
Rocket Lab has sent NASA's Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft on its way to the Moon atop an Electron rocket launched from New Zealand.
The launch had been subject to a number of delays, but at 09.55 UTC today, the Electron lifted off from Rocket Lab's Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand.
The Mars Ingenuity helicopter is in need of a patch to work around a failed sensor before another flight can be attempted.
The helicopter's inclinometer failed during a recommissioning effort ahead of the 29th flight. The sensor is critical as it will reposition the craft nearer to the Perseverance rover for communication purposes.
Although not required during flight, the inclinometer (which consists of two accelerometers) is used to measure gravity prior to spin-up and takeoff. "The direction of the sensed gravity is used to determine how Ingenuity is oriented relative to the downward direction," said Håvard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter chief pilot.
Pic When space junk crashed into the Moon earlier this year, it made not one but two craters on the lunar surface, judging from images revealed by NASA on Friday.
Astronomers predicted a mysterious object would hit the Moon on March 4 after tracking the debris for months. The object was large, and believed to be a spent rocket booster from the Chinese National Space Administration's Long March 3C vehicle that launched the Chang'e 5-T1 spacecraft in 2014.
The details are fuzzy. Space agencies tend to monitor junk closer to home, and don't really keep an eye on what might be littering other planetary objects. It was difficult to confirm the nature of the crash; experts reckoned it would probably leave behind a crater. Now, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has spied telltale signs of an impact at the surface. Pictures taken by the probe reveal an odd hole shaped like a peanut shell on the surface of the Moon, presumably caused by the Chinese junk.
Interview NASA has set late August as the launch window for its much-delayed Artemis I rocket. Already perched atop the booster is the first flight-ready European Service Module (ESM). Five more are in the pipeline.
Airbus industrial manager Siân Cleaver, whom The Register met at the Goodwood Festival of Speed's Future Lab, has the task of managing the assembly of the spacecraft, which will provide propulsion, power, water, oxygen and nitrogen for the Orion capsule.
Looking for all the world like an evolution of the European Space Agency's (ESA) International Space Station (ISS) ATV freighter, the ESM is not pressurized and measures approximately 4 meters in length, including the Orbital Maneuvering System Engine (OMSE), which protrudes from the base.
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