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After six months on Mars, NASA's tiny copter is still flying high – Phys.org

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, photographed on the surface of Mars by the Perseverance rover on June 15, 2021.

It was only supposed to fly five times. And yet NASA’s helicopter on Mars, Ingenuity, has completed 12 flights and it isn’t ready to retire.

Given its stunning and unexpected success, the US space agency has extended Ingenuity’s mission indefinitely.

The tiny helicopter has become the regular travel companion of the rover Perseverance, whose core mission is to seek signs of ancient life on Mars.

“Everything is working so well,” said Josh Ravich, the head of Ingenuity’s mechanical engineering team. “We’re doing better on the surface than we had expected.”

Hundreds of people contributed to the project, though only about a dozen currently retain day-to-day roles.

Ravich joined the team five years ago.

“When I got the opportunity to come work on the helicopter project, I think I had the same reaction as anybody else: ‘Is that even possible?'”

His initial doubts were understandable: The air on Mars has a density equivalent to only one percent that of Earth’s atmosphere. By way of comparison, flying a helicopter on Mars would be like flying one in the thin air nearly 20 miles (30 kilometers) above Earth.

Nor was it easy getting to Mars in the first place. Ingenuity had to withstand the initial shock of takeoff from Earth, and then of the February 18 landing on the following a seven-month voyage through space, strapped to the rover’s belly.

Once in its new surroundings, the tiny (four pound, or 1.8 kilogram) copter has had to survive the glacial cold of Martian nights, drawing warmth from the solar panels that charge its batteries during the day. And its flights are guided using an array of sensors, since the 15-minute lag in communications from Earth makes real-time guidance impossible.

Scouting duties

On April 19, Ingenuity carried out its maiden , making history as the first motorized craft to fly on another planet.

Exceeding all expectations, it has gone on to fly 11 more times.

“We’ve actually been able to handle winds greater than we had expected,” Ravich told AFP.

“I think by flight three we had actually accomplished all of our engineering goals … (and) got all the information we had hoped to get,” said Ravich, who works for NASA’s famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which developed the helicopter.

Since then, Ingenuity has flown as high as 39 feet (12 meters), and its last flight lasted two minutes and 49 seconds. In all, it has covered a distance of 1.6 miles.

Six months of 'Ingenuity' helicopter on Mars
Six months of ‘Ingenuity’ helicopter on Mars.

In May, Ingenuity flew its first one-way mission, landing outside the relatively flat “airfield” that had been carefully selected as its initial home.

But not all has gone smoothly. Its sixth flight brought some excitement.

After being knocked dangerously off-balance by a malfunction affecting the photos taken in flight to help it stabilize, the tiny craft was able to recover. It landed, safe and sound, and the problem was resolved.

Ingenuity is now being sent out to scout the way for Perseverance, using its high-resolution color camera.

The purpose is twofold: to chart a path for the rover that is safe, but also which is of scientific interest, notably in geological terms.

Ken Farley, who heads Perseverance’s science team, explained how photos taken by Ingenuity during its 12th flight showed that a region dubbed South Seitha was of less interest than scientists had hoped.

As a result, the rover might not be sent there.

Favorable conditions

After more than six months on the red planet, the little drone-like craft has gained a growing following on Earth, featured on coffee cups and T-shirts sold on the internet.

What explains its longevity?

“The environment has been very cooperative so far: the temperatures, the wind, the sun, the dust in the air… It’s still very cold, but it could have been a lot worse,” said Ravich.

In theory, the helicopter should be able to keep operating for some time. But the approaching Martian winter will be challenging.

NASA engineers, now armed with the data from Ingenuity’s flights, are already working on its next-generation successors.

“Something in the 20 to 30 kilograms (range) maybe, able to carry science payloads,” said Ravich.

Those future payloads might just include the rock samples collected by Perseverance.

NASA is planning to retrieve those samples during a future mission—sometime in the 2030s.


Explore further

NASA’s Mars helicopter’s third flight goes farther, faster than before


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23,000-year-old human footprints found in White Sands – Sunday Vision

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Alamogordo- New scientific research conducted in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park – located 73 miles, 117.5 kilometers, northeast of El Paso – has revealed the oldest known human footprints in North America.

This discovery reveals evidence of humans having been in North America – specifically in the Tularosa Basin – at least 23,000 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

The relics were found at the bottom of a dry lake in White Sands National Park, and were first seen in 2009 by a park administrator. Scientists from the US Geological Survey analyzed the seeds attached to the footprints to determine their approximate age, which ranges from 22,800 to 21,130 years.

Most scholars believe that the ancient migration occurred via a now submerged land bridge linking Asia to Alaska.

Based on various types of evidence — such as stone tools, fossil bones, and genetic analysis — other researchers have offered a range of possible dates that put humans on the American continent between 13,000 and 26,000 years ago or more.

The authors add that the current study provides a stronger basis for when humans were certainly in North America, although they could have arrived earlier.

Superintendent Mary Sutter said: “These amazing discoveries demonstrate that White Sands National Park is not only a world-class destination for recreation, it is also an outstanding scientific laboratory that has produced ground-breaking research.”

Fossilized human footprints were buried in multiple layers of sediment on a large beach in White Sands National Park. The seeds embedded in the footprints were radiocarbon dated and analyzed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to determine their age. The research significantly expands the coexistence of humans and the Pleistocene (Ice Age) megafauna and confirms that humans were present in North America before the great advance of glaciers at the height of the last Ice Age that closed migration routes from Asia. The results are detailed in an article published in the journal Science.

The researchers wrote that the fossilized footprints are indisputable evidence and stronger than “cultural artifacts, modified bones, or other traditional fossils.”

“What we are presenting here is evidence of a specific time and place,” they said.

Based on the size of the footprints, researchers believe that at least some of them were left by children and teenagers who lived during the last Ice Age.

“This study demonstrates the scientific process: New evidence can change long-term models,” said Alison Shipp, acting regional director at USGS Rocky Mountain.

White Sands National Park contains the world’s largest collection of fossilized footprints from the Ice Age (Ice Age) and has been recognized as a mega-site since 2014. In addition to human footprints, the footprints of the Colombian mammoth, saber, dire wolf and other animals of the era icy;

Scientists from White Sands National Park, the National Park Service, the USGS, Bournemouth University, the University of Arizona, and Cornell University, collaborated with and consulted on the park’s Native American partners on this research.

White Sands National Park protects and preserves the world’s largest sand dune field, at least 23,000 years of adaptable archeology, flora and fauna, as well as historic buildings, with architecture that mimics those of the indigenous peoples, built during the Works Progress Administration era, Between 1939 and 1943.

Previous excavations in White Sands National Park have revealed fossilized footprints of a saber-toothed tiger, giant wolf, Columbian mammoth, and other Ice Age animals.

 “Bacon advocate. Certified creator. Twitteraholic. Tv junkie. Beer fanatic. Internet nerd. Passionate thinker. Reader.”

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Where does outer space begin? – The Clare People – The Clare People

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Detailed chronology of events right after the Big Bang (Image : Reproduction/The Ohio State University)

Since then, it has continued to expand more and more, an expansion that lasts 11, 8 billion years. This means that you, me, the Earth, the Sun and the Milky Way are just in a space that already existed at the Big Bang, but that has expanded enough to fit all these cosmic objects that enchant us during a night clear of clouds and fog. This is why we cannot point to the direction where the Big Bang occurred. In a way, we are at the place where it happened.

It is also for these same reasons that the cosmic background radiation (the “fossil” of light left over from the Big Bang) is observed in any direction in space where we look—with large telescopes, of course. Thus, the most appropriate way to ask about the beginning of the universe is not “where” but “when”. This is also true for “where does space outside Earth begin?”, because the Earth is immersed in this space, which is the very expansion that resulted from the Big Bang.

The space where our little one The pale “dot” we call a planet already existed in the Big Bang. It makes no sense to ask where it starts, because we have no external reference to the cosmos. We are in the same universe, where the space between galaxies increases, and where energy and matter are changing all the time.

Where is the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere?

SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission, which took civilians to space (Image: Reproduction/DrSianProctor/Twitter)

Well, if your question is where the domains of the Earth’s atmosphere end, perhaps the answer could be more objective — but it isn’t! The boundary between our atmosphere and outer space (from the English “outer space”, which literally means “outer space”) is also quite relative. It was not enough to know that the “external space” is nothing else where we are immersed, there is also no exact definition for this border.

There are some international treaties that define “space” as something free for exploration and use by all (as long as it is not used for military purposes), but this does not apply to sovereign airspace above nations, for example. Therefore, countries define their own limits and the laws that govern airspace and outer space are different. So where does a country’s airspace end and space begin? This is a political issue, and some countries, like the US, have resisted the idea of ​​delimiting borders.

It is also difficult to define these limits through the atmosphere, because it doesn’t end up “out of nowhere” , but gradually diminishes until it becomes a thin layer in space. If we take this definition literally, many satellites, and the International Space Station itself, would still be on Earth rather than in space. But things are more complicated than that.

Some experts might also say that space starts at the point where the atmosphere alone is not enough to support a spaceship at suborbital speeds. The opposite may also be true — there must be a limit where satellites can no longer orbit. If we observe the flight of all satellites with publicly available data, we realize that they can orbit the planet countless times below an altitude of approximately 80 km, but those who dipped below 100 km met a quick and fulminating end, most of the time.

I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth. To the next generation of dreamers: if we can do this, just imagine what you can do https://t.co/Wyzj0nOBgX #Unity13 @virgingalactic pic.twitter.com/03EJmKiH8V

— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 11, 470533

Apparently there are few atmospheric effects above 13 km of altitude. But maybe there is not much interest from companies, organizations and countries in establishing this limit. On the other hand, as space tourism becomes more and more real, the debate may be amplified. After all, if you pay a fortune to go into space, you’ll probably want to make sure you’re actually off planet Earth. a lot of confidence that our planet’s boundary with “outer space” is this or that altitude.

Source: National Geographic, Astronomy

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Elon Musk ridicules President Biden after SpaceX completes its first all-civil mission – Texasnewstoday.com

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After SpaceX completed its historic private spaceflight on Saturday, CEO Elon Musk took a potshot with President Joe Biden, who has not yet mentioned the performance of the company and private flight crew.

“The U.S. president admits four latest American astronauts who helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for St. Jude,” said one of Musk’s 60 million followers on Twitter, a social networking platform. I even refused. What is your theory of why? What? “

Musk replied, “He is still asleep.”

As CNBC previously reported, SpaceX returned the Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit safely yesterday. After spending three days in space, Capsule carried four members of the Inspiration 4 mission to Earth.

One of the main goals of the Inspiration4 mission was to raise $ 200 million for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Raised $ 160.2 million by Saturday. After Inspiration4 splashed down, Musk personally promised to donate $ 50 million, boosting the total campaign to $ 210 million.

The White House and SpaceX did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

NASA’s top executives congratulated Mask and SpaceX on the Inspiration 4 mission. SpaceX’s competitors have acknowledged that, with praise from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, and fellow Mask rivals Jeff Bezos shared on social media.

This marked the first private SpaceX space flight by a non-professional crew. In addition, the mission included the first black woman to pilot a spacecraft, the youngest American to ever become an astronaut, and the first to fly in space with a prosthetic limb. rice field.

Musk recently said he “wants to get away from politics,” but his quibble on Sunday showed his willingness to pierce the Democratic president and repeat right-wing taunts about Biden.

During the 2020 campaign, former President Donald Trump frequently insulted then-candidate Biden by calling him “Sleepy Joe.”

More recently, Trump sent Biden’s ironic wishes prior to the June summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Good luck to Biden in dealing with President Putin. Don’t sleep during the meeting. I give my heartfelt respect to him,” he said in an email statement at the time.

SpaceX usually enjoys a good relationship with the federal government. For example, it won a $ 2.89 billion contract to build NASA’s next crew member’s lunar lander, beating Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics. SpaceX has sent 10 astronauts to the ISS so far.

However, SpaceX is under investigation by the Justice Department after being accused of discriminating against job seekers based on citizenship status. This is an investigation that began during the Trump administration.

In addition to his responsibilities at SpaceX, Musk is also the CEO of electric car maker Tesla. (Tesla is also a SpaceX supplier.)

In that position, he recently lamented the Biden administration’s proposal to allocate an additional $ 4,500 incentive to certain new small electric passenger car buyers. One provision of the proposal is that electric vehicles should be domestically made by the union.

The company operates a battery plant in Nevada, an auto assembly plant in California, and is building another plant outside Austin, Texas, but Tesla is the only major unintegrated production here. American car maker.

“This was written by a Ford / UAW lobbyist while manufacturing an electric car in Mexico. It’s not clear how this will help American taxpayers,” Musk said on Twitter on September 12. No, “he said.

In Cars.com’s 2021 annual American Made Index, Tesla’s popular Model 3 electric sedan outperformed its crossover model Y in third place.

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