Cold, wind, radiation: implications to Martian helicopter

Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолетуIn the United States launched a mission to Mars in which the planet will be the first time in history to use a helicopter. The chief designer of the machine said “Газете.Ru” about how scientists dare to fly on Mars, what breakthroughs in technology have made this possible and threatening the machine on this planet.

The third in summer and the most difficult expedition to Mars was launched this time in the United States — from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral launched an Atlas V rocket, on Board of which to a nearby planet flies the Rover Perseverance. Because of the peculiarities of the mutual arrangement of the orbits the shortest way to Mars open every two years,

for this reason, this summer is scheduled from three expeditions to Mars — previously kicked off the Chinese and the mission of the United Arab Emirates.

By tradition, the new NASA Rover, which is 14% heavier working there since 2012, the Curiosity Rover will be more difficult than its predecessor. He will search for traces of life and to study the Geology of the planet, to understand the causes of the transformation of Mars in a dry and cold planet. In addition, the Rover will be a series of experiments, useful for a possible future expeditions people on the planet. Thus, the MOXIE experiment is designed to show the possibility of obtaining oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, which is 96% composed of carbon dioxide. In addition, on Board the Rover fly tissue samples of suit — scientists want to know how the material will act harsh conditions of Mars.

However, the main “highlight” of the expedition will be the first time in history sent to another planet, a real helicopter — camera Ingenuity a mass of 1.8 kg and has a height of two feet and will rise by two coaxial screws with a diameter of 1.2 meters.

To charge the helicopter is due to the energy of the Sun and make a few 90-second test flights. Given the low atmospheric density of Mars, scientists compare the first flight of the helicopter with the first flight of the Wright brothers plane.

About the technical features and the unique tasks of the helicopter “Газета.Ru” I talked to his chief designer, a NASA engineer Bob Balarama.


Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолету
Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолету


Bob, the idea is to send a helicopter to Mars came to you in 1990-ies. Not if you considered her, then mad, given the level of technology development, the capacity of the then existing electric motors, batteries, etc.?

— We were going for the first time to investigate complex problems such as the autonomy, operations, aerodynamics. At the time, it was the initial stage of research without waiting for immediate flight to Mars.

— The development of technologies has become critical and will allow you to raise such a device in the Martian atmosphere, the atmosphere is a hundred times less dense than on Earth?

Light, processors and lithium-ion batteries high power.

— What distinguishes Mars from the same helicopter drones, used on Earth?

— More rapid rotation of the screws, design features that reduce the runout of the blades, extreme low temperature operation, design, resistant to radiation, high level of autonomy.

I thought that these unique devices are specially manufactured components, but in the case of the Mars Helicopter is not. Tell us what components are serial and which are designed specially for him?

— Serial processors is resistant to radiation of the FPGA (programmable logic integrated circuits FPGA), processors for the flight controls, as well as processors for high-end navigation features similar to that used in cell phones. Also has a serial sensor: camera navigation, altimeter, and inertial measurement unit. Serial Maxon motors for servo drives.

Serial chip — communication devices based on Zigbee. Was specially developed design elements, blades, motors, traction, case, high efficiency solar panel.


Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолету
Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолету


– In the helicopter eight Swiss Maxon DCX motors 10, their online price of $100. Where they are used on Earth? The same question about Sony battery.

— These motors are used in a number of robotic processes. They also found application in certain space missions of the European space Agency. Sony battery with high energy density used in weepingboy industry.

— You plan to make about five flights. Why not more?

— We have 30 Martian days, is expected the week of commissioning, and three days on each flight.

–What is the scientific goal of the Mars helicopter?

— To transmit telemetry data to check the correctness of the choice of helicopter design and future schemes.

– That most threatens the helicopter on Mars?

— Off-design heat loss at night. A bad landing during unexpected gusts of wind. The integrity of components under the influence of thermal loads.

– How the computer selects a safe landing site?

We refused the Autonomous selection of the landing site in the beginning to save on tests. All takeoffs and landings will be made with safe plots of 10 by 10 meters, carefully selected after analyzing the photos from the Rover.


Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолету
Холод, ветер, радиация: что угрожает марсианскому вертолету

J. (Bob) Balaram/California Institute of Technology

– Whether one leg of the helicopter to cling to the stone or fall into a crack and tilting a helicopter during takeoff?

— I already said about the choice of plantings. Form supports are designed to minimize the probability of snagging.

— Are there fundamental limitations to create a more heavy, possibly, manned helicopters for Mars in the future?

— Up to manned helicopters are too far, need very big rotors. In my opinion, for devices 30 kg is probably the upper limit.

— On what bodies in the Solar system it is possible to use helicopters in the future? Venus, Titan?

Definitely on Titan (it’s easy to fly), and the mission of this Dragonfly is being developed for. Likely to be offered a disposable apparatus for Venus with vertolyotnyy functions.


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