For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – For the first time in history a Martian Helicopter has been unveiled on the surface of the Red Planet as NASA’s experimental Ingenuity rotocraft catches humanity’s very first glimpse of the delightfully diminutive and cute craft -attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover after the protective debris shield was dropped, and imaged on Sunday, Sol 30, March 21 by the powerful high resolution camera on the terminus of the robotic arm’s turret, or hand.
Catch the stunning first ever view of Ingenuity – the first Helicopter to ride to Mars and the first to be touched by Martian air – in the brand new wide angle mosaic view captured on Sol 30 (March 21, 2021) which I assembled from 8 color raw images taken by the Sherloc Watson camera on the robots turret pointed back to the SUZ-sized vehicle
The dramatic Sol 30 mosaic shows Ingenuity still stowed and all folded up on the underbelly of Perseverance with the dropped debris shield lying flat on the floor of the Jezero Crater landing site and in between the six wheels with wheel tracks and rocks behind in this expansive view out to the crater wall.
Meanwhile after a pictorial search with the high resolution mast mounted cameras the science and engineering team has located a ‘helipad’ which they will drive to soon and where they will eventually drop Ingenuity as soon as early April for the history making test flight campaign in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars.
“The teams operating Ingenuity and NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover have chosen the flight zone where the helicopter will attempt the first powered, controlled flights on another planet,” said NASA officials.
Dropping the debris shield was the first step to getting Ingenuity unfolded and dropped onto Mars in an audacious attempt to carry out the first ever powered flight on a world beyond Earth.
“Away goes the debris shield, and here’s our first look at the helicopter. It’s stowed sideways, folded up and locked in place, so there’s some reverse origami to do before I can set it down. First though, I’ll be off to the designated “helipad,” a couple days’ drive from here,” Perseverance tweeted.
Away goes the debris shield, and here’s our first look at the helicopter. It’s stowed sideways, folded up and locked in place, so there’s some reverse origami to do before I can set it down. First though, I’ll be off to the designated “helipad,” a couple days’ drive from here. pic.twitter.com/E9zZGQk5jQ
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 21, 2021
The debris shield was critical for protecting Ingenuity during the scorching heats and stresses of the ‘7 minutes of Terror’ culminating in the safe and sound soft touchdown of NASA’s Perseverance rover just over a month ago on Feb. 18 after a 7 month interplanetary journey from Earth.
Watch this NASA JPL video showing a drop test of the debris heat shield on Earth:
“Lots of activity next week as I get ready to drop off the helicopter for its test flights. It’s tucked underneath me behind a protective debris shield, which will be the first thing to go. Here’s my team testing some of what’s coming up,” Perseverance tweeted.
Lots of activity next week as I get ready to drop off the helicopter for its test flights. It’s tucked underneath me behind a protective debris shield, which will be the first thing to go.
Here’s my team testing some of what’s coming up: pic.twitter.com/CWwtGw87EX
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 20, 2021
The team describes the upcoming activities to ready Ingenuity for its flight tests on Mars – in the NASA JPL video tweet:
I’ve been busy since landing on Mars. Hear from members of my team about what I’ve been checking off my to-do list lately and what they’re planning for me and the #MarsHelicoper, Ingenuity, in the upcoming days. Leave your Qs for them in the comments. pic.twitter.com/6MRsYjq0Ae
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 19, 2021
The team has already located a spot for the Ingenuity test flights:
The helicopter team has zeroed in on a good place for takeoff. Tune in next week for a preview of their upcoming test flight. First flight no earlier than 1st week of April. https://t.co/uXVQY3LFUM
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 17, 2021
To get ready for the debris shield drop, Perseverance first had to drop the belly pan cover protecting the sample caching system in front.
Check out my trio of mosaics herein showing the before and after views of dropping the protective belly pan cover for the sample caching system directly below on Sols 21 and 22 and then driving away a short distance on Sol 23.
The Sherloc Watson camera is located on the robotic arm hand, or turret seen in my Sol 17 mosaic below.
The solar powered Ingenuity helicopter is a technology demonstration experiment aimed at attempting the first flight on Mars.
It is stowed on the belly and receives its charge from the rover’s power supply.
The four legged Ingenuity has a mass of about 4.0 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and stands 1.6 feet or 19 inches (0.49 meters) high. It is equipped with two counter rotating blades for lift spinning at about 2,400 rpm and two cameras.
After Ingenuity is deployed on Mars’ surface its batteries will be charged solely by the helicopter’s own solar panel. If Ingenuity survives the cold Martian nights during its preflight checkout, the team will proceed with testing.
My Perseverance rover shadow selfie mosaic was also featured at the Space.com space news website – here.
Watch our live and complete ‘Stay Curious’ with live Perseverance landing commentary Feb 18, 2021 as well as March 22 and earlier programs on Mars Mania on Feb 12.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, Artemis and NASA missions, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Ken has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers
Please consider supporting Ken’s work by donating at Patreon: