JPL Engineers Run Groundbreaking Helicopter Tests in Pasadena and on Mars – Pasadena Now

This video combines two views of the 59th flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Video on the left was captured by the Mastcam-Z on NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover; the black-and-white video on the precise was taken by Ingenuity’s downward-pointing Navcam. The flight occurred Sept 16. [Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS]

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is making historical past by testing future plane designs on two planets concurrently. JPL engineers not too long ago examined a brand new rotor for next-generation Mars helicopters, spinning at near-supersonic speeds (0.95 Mach), whereas the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter achieved new altitude and airspeed information on Mars.

Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s mission supervisor and supervisor for the Mars Pattern Restoration Helicopters, stated, “Our next-generation Mars helicopter testing has actually had the most effective of each worlds. Right here on Earth, you have got all of the instrumentation and hands-on immediacy you possibly can hope for whereas testing new plane elements. On Mars, you have got the true off-world circumstances you possibly can by no means actually re-create right here on Earth.”

The subsequent-generation carbon fiber rotor blades being examined at JPL are nearly 4 inches longer than Ingenuity’s, with better energy and a unique design. These blades might allow greater, extra succesful Mars helicopters. Nonetheless, because the blade suggestions method supersonic speeds, vibration-causing turbulence can shortly get out of hand.

To simulate the Martian environment on Earth, engineers used JPL’s 25-foot broad, 85-foot-tall house simulator. For 3 weeks in September, a group monitored sensors, meters, and cameras because the blades endured run after run at ever-higher speeds and better pitch angles.

Tyler Del Sesto, Pattern Restoration Helicopter deputy take a look at conductor at JPL, stated, “We spun our blades as much as 3,500 rpm, which is 750 revolutions per minute quicker than the Ingenuity blades have gone. These extra environment friendly blades at the moment are greater than a hypothetical train. They’re able to fly.”

In the meantime, about 100 million miles away, Ingenuity was being commanded to attempt issues the Mars Helicopter group by no means imagined they might get to do. 

This simultaneous testing on Earth and Mars marks a major milestone within the improvement of future plane designs.

Ingenuity was initially slated to fly not more than 5 instances. With its first flight coming into the mission logbook greater than two-and-a-half years in the past, the helicopter has exceeded its deliberate 30-day mission by 32 instances and has flown 66 instances. Each time Ingenuity goes airborne, it covers new floor, providing a perspective no earlier planetary mission might obtain. However currently, Staff Ingenuity has been taking their solar-powered rotorcraft out for a spin like by no means earlier than.

“Over the previous 9 months, now we have doubled our max airspeed and altitude, elevated our fee of vertical and horizontal acceleration, and even realized to land slower,” stated Travis Brown, Ingenuity’s chief engineer at JPL. “The envelope growth offers invaluable information that can be utilized by mission designers for future Mars helicopters.”

Restricted by obtainable vitality and motor-temperature concerns, Ingenuity flights normally final round two to 3 minutes. Though the helicopter can cowl extra floor in a single flight by flying quicker, flying too quick can confuse the onboard navigation system. The system makes use of a digicam that acknowledges rocks and different floor options as they transfer by means of its subject of view. If these options whiz by too quick, the system can lose its means.

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