Get your ass to the Mars choppah
July 16, 2020 10:59 AM   Subscribe

The next Mars rover, named Perseverance, is approaching its launch window of July 30 - Aug. 15, 2020; in addition to having a full dance ticket of its own, will be carrying a passenger: Ingenuity, a helicopter, the first extraterrestrial powered aircraft (that we know of, or of human origin), set to make its first flight on the Red Planet in the spring of 2021.

In addition to cheering Perseverance and Ingenuity on, you can make your own paper helicopter, or code a game.

(previously on the blue, many more previouslies)
posted by Halloween Jack (15 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Whoa. I hadn't heard about this. So cool! What a nerdy little guy. I can imagine how at helicopter high school all the other copters made fun of him at his first day, but then someone was like "So where's your first missions gonna be, Walmart?!" *laughter* "No, Mars. I'll be flying on the planet Mars." *stunned silence*

also, I noticed:

"Length of Mission: One or more flights within 30 days"

Under promise and over deliver! Good luck buddy!
posted by gwint at 11:28 AM on July 16 [9 favorites]


A helicopter!! On Mars! How cool. Oh man, a thing to look forward too, what a weird feeling
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:33 AM on July 16 [5 favorites]


The helicopter reminds me of leonardo da vinci's drawing.
posted by Poldo at 11:42 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Oh wild, they're using direct drive motors and proper swashplates, if you dig into the design PDF. I wasn't sure if they were just going to have coaxial mainshafts and some sort of pitch hijinks to reduce the mechanical complexity, but nope! Full on coaxial collective pitch, just with exposed motors.
posted by Kyol at 11:50 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Little did we know when they selected Perseverance as the name how apropos it would turn out to be. An absolute bright spot in an otherwise dismal year.
posted by tclark at 11:51 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


"Length of Mission: One or more flights within 30 days" Under promise and over deliver!

Underpromising would be aiming for at least one-half of one controlled flight.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:07 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


Pardon my ignorance, but the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this was air density. How much air is there to twirl the blades around in, and how do these blades compensate for it if they have to?
posted by njohnson23 at 12:10 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


How much air is there to twirl the blades around in, and how do these blades compensate for it if they have to?

1% as much air as on Earth. The lower gravity helps counteract the lower air density somewhat, but that's not enough by itself:
The primary way to achieve lift with a rotorcraft in thin air is to spin the blades very fast. The Mars Helicopter's rotors will operate between 2,300 and 2,800 rpm, depending on the atmospheric density at the landing site, which is five to ten times faster than the rotor speed of an average helicopter.
posted by jedicus at 12:22 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Which is not actually unreasonably fast - I had to look around, but it sounds like that's the throttle up RPM on model helicopters, because they're facing sort of the same limitations. I wonder if it boils down to figuring out what the speed of sound is like in the atmosphere and getting the tip speed up to 90% of that and then figuring out the blade chord to produce the best lift inside those requirements.
posted by Kyol at 12:48 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


Looks sideways at Kyol - "yea, those were my questions too"
posted by zenon at 1:39 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]


Go go go!

Meanwhile, two other Mars missions are on tap, one from the UAE and the other from China.
posted by doctornemo at 1:48 PM on July 16


depending on the atmospheric density at the landing site

I wonder if that contributes at all to making this eggbeater possible. The landing site in Jezero Crater is at an elevation of approximately -2900m which would result in a higher atmospheric density at the landing site compared to the datum (oversimplifying but the datum is the same concept as sea level).
posted by nathan_teske at 1:49 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


And if you're asking "whaddya mean by 'pitch hijinks'" - my favorite weird flight enginerd youtuber Tom Stanton has something to show you, although I'm not sure if that actually qualifies as a net simplification or not.

Also, if you're wondering why all these Mars missions are underway at the same time, fundamentally it boils down to Mars needing relatively low energies to reach at the moment. Make your own porkchops here.
posted by Kyol at 1:56 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


The Emirates Mars Mission is scheduled to launch tonight:
https://www.space.com/uae-hope-emirates-mars-mission-launch-webcast.html
posted by doctornemo at 11:29 AM on July 19




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