NASA makes its marching helicopter Ingenuity wobble

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NASA’s Martian helicopter is in trouble. Ingenuity has a problem with its propeller after it crashed during its last mission. Not a very nice way to stop, but NASA wants to help Ingenuity. The marching helicopter has to wobble to see how bad the propellers are.

It was Ingenuity’s 72nd mission that caused the helicopter to crash in late January. Too bad, because it had already been decided that that would be the last mission of the device. One of the rotor blades broke, but there had been some problems for a while. Contact was lost for a while and now the blades are broken. They normally rotate 2537 times per minute and if one rotates less well, it can be disastrous for other parts of the helicopter. A helicopter that is out of balance will not function properly and will only suffer more damage.

Broken marching helicopter

Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s project manager, says NASA and JPL are not yet sure why there is damage to the rotor blades. Perhaps the helicopter’s power suddenly increased significantly before it hit the ground, or there was a so-called brownout (an interruption in the electricity supply) and that caused it to hit the ground. Now the organizations want to ensure that the blades rotate quietly and view the video images to assess the condition of the device. NASA can also adjust the angle of the blades slightly, which may help discover what is wrong.

Whatever comes out with the wobble, Ingenuity has had an impressive career on Mars. Humanity has never been there before, but this helicopter has helped to reveal much more about the planet. He helped Mars rover Perseverance by figuring out where the rover could go. The terrain on the planet is quite rough and a Mars rover could easily get stuck. The helicopter did the preliminary work by flying steadily forward.

Ingenuity retired

Moreover, NASA never dreamed that it would do so well: it was questionable whether it would take off at all, because the density of the atmosphere is less than one percent of that on Earth. The goal was five flights, but that turned out to be 72. They were not long flights: a total of two hours and 17 kilometers, but extremely impressive. And that’s it, regardless of what NASA will find.

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: NASA marching helicopter Ingenuity wobble

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