NASA plans to develop a new Mars helicopter: larger, six-rotor, drillable caves

NASA engineers are planning to develop a new Martian helicopter based on the Wit.

NASA plans to develop a new Mars helicopter: larger, six-rotor, drillable caves

Tencent Technology News reported on July 14 that despite several twists and turns, the test mission of NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity was a complete success, and it continues to fly. In view of this, NASA engineers are planning to develop a new Martian helicopter on the basis of Wiz.

A concept currently being studied by NASA engineers is the development of a “Mars scientific helicopter”, which is believed to greatly help expand the scope of Mars exploration, including the possibility of drilling into Martian caves. Researchers have collected a large amount of technical information from the ground-flight of the witty, and have steadily advanced its capabilities. Now, they hope to use these data to promote the development of a new Martian air reconnaissance system.

NASA plans to develop a new Mars helicopter: larger, six-rotor, drillable caves

NASA Mars helicopter paves the way to help develop more powerful rotorcraft

Theodore Tzanetos, the head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said: “The Witt is just a technology demonstration prototype. Our core goal, which is our main mission, is to prove that we can Flying on Mars, creating the’Wright Brothers Moment’ for the first time, and hoping to open the door to improving exploration capabilities on this red planet in the future.”

At the online meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), Channetos reviewed the flights of the Wit so far and made predictions about future flights. He also listed the basic conditions of possible future Mars vehicles . This group is responsible for providing the necessary scientific input for NASA’s planning and prioritization of Mars exploration activities.

Chanetos emphasized that the launch of the Witt project is due to a small but passionate team, including Jet Propulsion Laboratory, AeroVironment, NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Qualcomm, NASA Langley Research Center and SolAero.

Chanetos said: “Since the first flight of Gizwits on April 19, we have been collecting engineering data, and every subsequent flight is based on that success.” As of Tuesday (7th local time in the United States) June 13), Wiz has already flown 9 times on Mars.

Wit made its first flight in April, and it lasted approximately 30 seconds from take-off to landing. In the next few weeks, the small helicopter completed four more flights, and completed the initial technical demonstration mission in early May.

Since then, WIT has been extending mission time and demonstrating the reconnaissance potential of Mars helicopters. The plan calls for the Giz to fly approximately twice a month, assisted by a smaller team of operators on Earth. Chanetos said: “The focus is on improving efficiency as much as possible. It can be said that we have really started to make great progress in flight distance, flight time and height from the ground.”

At the same time, the flight of Mars helicopters also created many “firsts.” These include the use of navigational images from the Gizmo and the fusion of images of the Jezero Crater taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Doing so shows that WIT can produce high-resolution images in the frontcourt.

Chanetos explained that the geological structure of Jezero Crater (including sandy terrain) was considered difficult for Perseverance to pass. However, the operator later discovered that the color images taken by the Gizwits provided very valuable information for the rover operator, and its reconnaissance capabilities will be necessary for further exploration in the coming weeks.

The Wit operator ultimately hopes to promote such a flight that each helicopter will cover 0.6 miles (1 km) of ground for reconnaissance, which will require the helicopter to stay at high altitude for up to 3 minutes. Chanetos said: “As far as the aircraft is concerned, this really breaks the limits of the capabilities of this technology demonstration project.”

As for the future of the Mars helicopter, the idea currently under discussion is to build a six-rotor “hexagonal vehicle” platform. When talking about this concept, Chanetos said: “We call it the Mars Scientific Helicopter. This is not an official NASA mission yet. By increasing this aerial dimension, we are still exploring what scientific goals can help achieve.”

The hexagonal aircraft currently under evaluation can carry a scientific payload of about 1.8 to 5 kilograms and can cruise about 10 kilometers per flight. Chanetos added: “We can reach places that the rover can’t reach, such as cliffs or difficult terrain, and even drill into caves.”

In addition, the new Mars helicopter will have more capabilities, including performing scientific missions that require customized aircraft to carry different payloads, adjusting hovering time and flying range, and so on. Chanetos said: “We are open to new ideas and concepts and welcome more good ideas in the future Mars rotorcraft.”

Editor’s note: This article is from Tencent Technology , reviewed by Golden Deer, and published with authorization.

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