What is NASA's next mission to fly a helicopter on Mars?

In April 2021, the unmanned helicopter '

Ingenuity ' developed by NASA flew on Mars, achieving the feat of powered flight on a planet other than Earth for the first time in human history. Robotics writer Evan Ackerman explains how NASA will evolve such helicopters in the future.

JPL's Plan For The Next Mars Helicopter --IEEE Spectrum

According to Ackerman, NASA has proven that Ingenuity's success not only allows it to fly on Mars, but also brings practical and scientific value. NASA is trying to develop a new helicopter following Ingenuity. NASA started the concept of the new helicopter '

Mars Science Laboratory (MSH) ' about three years ago when the design and testing of Ingenuity was almost finished. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which developed Ingenuity , robot engineers at Ames Research Center , and AeroVironment, an unmanned aerial vehicle development company, gathered together without the support of the Mars rover. I started my research to create a helicopter that could fly over the surface of Mars. Machines that can move in the air to explore areas and wide areas that vehicles cannot reach, take samples from the surface of the earth, and take pictures of different surfaces depending on the height at which they fly. It was a big goal for scientists.

The MSH missions set by the developers are roughly divided into two. One is to investigate the 'Mawrth Vallis' where rivers and lakes are said to have been about 3.5 billion years ago, and to take samples using arms and microdrills, and the other is a neutron spectrometer and infrared rays. To measure a wide range of surface data with a sensor or the like. Below is an image of MSH designed to solve these missions. MSH has a so-called 'hexacopter ' structure with a total diameter of about 4 m, a mass of 31 kg, and six propellers. The maximum speed is about 30 m / s, and it is possible to fly up to 10 km by charging with the solar panel provided at the top. Charging time is for one day on Mars.

Since the design of MSH was done before Ingenuity flew on Mars, it was possible to find a safe landing site even with relatively low resolution images from Ingenuity's flight, and in windy conditions. There are many things I learned, such as what kind of flight I can do. 'Some of the problems we thought were difficult didn't seem to be that difficult,' said Bob Balaram, chief engineer at JPL. When it comes to control, Ingenuity shows more than expected. He gave me. '

'Ingenuity is just a quick indication of what a helicopter can do on Mars. Imagine and realize what a helicopter can do on Mars is a challenge for all of us. Potential More optimizing MSH for a wide range of missions is our next step. '

in Science, Posted by log1p_kr