After losing contact with its helicopter, NASA halts the entire Mars mission

cleverness NASA satellites across the Red Planet for more than a year.”/>

Zoom / NASA Mars cleverness Helicopter flying across the red planet for more than a year.

NASA

Achieving a flight on another world is one of the greatest feats of spaceflight in the past decade. Since his first short jump on April 19, 2021, Mars cleverness The helicopter later made an additional 27 flights, covering nearly 7 kilometers across the surface of the Red Planet and surveyed by NASA. perseverance rover. It has exceeded the expectations and hopes of its scientists and engineers.

But recently, the robotic micro-helicopter has had problems with the dust accumulating on its solar panels, NASA says. This dust reduces the vehicle’s ability to recharge its six lithium-ion batteries. And just as a helicopter needs all the solar power it can get, Mars’ northern hemisphere is nearing the end of winter, which comes just over two months later.

Because of these battery issues, the helicopter’s team of flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lost contact with the helicopter on May 3. They were closely monitoring the health of their small spacecraft, especially the state of its batteries. After losing contact, the engineers concluded that clevernessThe domain programmable gate array – essentially, its flight computer – went into shutdown mode due to a lack of power. In such a situation, almost all electronics on board the helicopter were turned off to protect it from cold night temperatures, which are well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing. This included the internal clock.

With this working premise, the engineers on the ground took the extraordinary step of saving their brave helicopter. cleverness It landed on Mars in February 2021 as a small component on the much larger Mars perseverance rover, which he uses as a bridge to communicate with the Earth. After closing it earlier this month, engineers found out when the sun rose and clevernessThe charging batteries have started to charge, it will attempt to connect to the nearby rover. Only, because his internal clock has been reset, and when cleverness try to call perseveranceThe rover won’t listen.

Therefore, the engineering team ordered perseverance To stop all of her ongoing scientific activities for a whole day to sit there and listen attentively clevernessa call. The significance of this decision is that the helicopter was initially seen as an additional technical offering. Some members of the rover driving team didn’t want to take the extra risk of bringing it in cleverness Along. The helicopter was supposed to make five test flights within 30 days and then be pushed aside. Now, the entire Mars mission has been suspended, after nearly 13 months clevernessThe first trip, hoping to save the small car.

Well, fortunately, cleverness Call home after about 24 hours. According to NASA, the correlation was stable, and the solar array was able to charge its batteries at 41 percent. Engineers say they hope to resume work clevernessFlight campaign within the next few days after the helicopter batteries are fully charged.

Unfortunately, this may be the beginning of the end for a helicopter that has greatly exceeded all expectations. NASA engineers have had to take some fairly drastic steps to preserve it clevernessbattery charge. For example, they have now ordered the helicopter heaters to only turn on when the battery temperature drops to -40 degrees, which is much cooler than the previous point of 5 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s unknown how many ready-made components in a car would cost without this extra heating during cold Mars nights.

Mars will get colder and darker over the next 10 weeks as winter intensifies.

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