Washington – The little “creativity” helicopter is said to have flown around Mars for much longer than initially planned. NASA announced at a press conference on Friday that the mission, which was originally scheduled to last about 30 days, was initially extended by 30 days. “After this 30-day period, we’re going to look at where we stand,” said NASA Administrator Lori Glaze. “There is an opportunity to go beyond that.”
Meanwhile, “creativity” flew over Mars for the fourth time. NASA said that after a failed attempt to take off on Thursday, the flight concluded successfully on Friday. The helicopter has moved farther and faster than previous flights and took additional photos.
On Thursday, the helicopter, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries and weighs about 1.8kg, did not take off from the ground as planned. Due to the circumstances that were not clearly articulated, “creativity” did not switch to flight mode, which is a prerequisite for takeoff. NASA engineers were already aware of the problem from previous tests.
Last week, Creativity took off for the first time – making it the first plane to fly to another planet. After that he made two more trips.
The helicopter must challenge the harsh conditions on Mars: at night, temperatures drop to minus 90 degrees, which is a challenge for batteries and electronics. Because of the thin atmosphere, which is about 1% dense as the one on Earth, the “creativity” vanes must accelerate to 2,537 revolutions per minute – many times what helicopters can achieve on Earth. “Creativity” draws energy for this voltage from its battery fed by sunlight.
The tiny helicopter aboard the “persevering” NASA rover (roughly in German: stay in power) was created at the end of February – after 203 days of flight and 472 million kilometers of travel – with a risky maneuver in a dry Martian lake called Gezero Crater. It took eight years to develop and build the rover, which is worth about $ 2.5 billion (about 2.2 billion euros). He will search for traces of past microbial life on Mars and research the climate and geology of the planet.