Mars helicopter 10 interesting facts
The name of the helicopter is called Ingenuity. Here are some interesting facts about the helicopter and how it flies.
It arrived on mars tucked underneath the belly of the rover. It will be amazing when it flies and as big as the Wright brothers first flight on earth.
- Linux flies on mars! Now this will be the case if the helicopter works. But certainly, it's a first for open source software that will be used on the Mars helicopter.
- No one has flown on another planet let alone Mars. The atmosphere is 1% of what earth is. So in basic terms, the rotor blades have to spin much faster to create lift. The helicopter is a proof of concept, its only goal is to fly. So here’s hoping for lift off!!
- The helicopters processor is more powerful than the rovers. They used the Snapdragon 801 processor from Qualcomm. The same one used in mobile phones.
- It's not true autonomous that it uses to fly. They set points to where it will fly to and then, return to where it started. It has no collision-avoidance software. Later versions of the helicopter will have this.
- Data is sent via the rover back to earth. So they only have a 30-day window to fly the helicopter. The rover will have moved away from the helicopter by then.
- For navigation, it uses an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) similar to what is used on a mobile phone to know its position as its moving. A laser is used as an altimeter so that it knows its height above ground.
- The helicopter has 2 cameras, one VGA which looks down constantly to track features. The other is a 13-megapixel camera much the same as the ones used on a mobile phone. Looking forward to some stunning shots.
- The weight of the helicopter is 1.8kg and the length of the blades are 1.2 metres.
- You can download the open-source software here and play with it. You can even embed it into a RasberyPii.
- Needs to be able to survive overnight temperatures of -100c
To find out in even more detail about the helicopter you can check out the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) website.
Once the first flight has been completed, I hope to have an interview with one of the engineers on Ingenuity.