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Ingenuity- Mars 2020 Helicopter, Deployment & Operations
Art Martin
post Mar 7 2021, 04:35 PM
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I'm putting this in the Early Drives category because I believe that one of the primary purposes of these first drives is to find a spot for the helicopter.

Is anyone else wondering like I am just what the terrain needs to look like to set the helicopter down? It sure looks to me that the areas we're in right now are largely free of obstacles for flying and landing with no large rocks. Unless you go for some completely sand covered spot I'm not sure you're going to find any areas any more pristine. Does anybody have any info about what type of zone they are exactly looking for? Since the helicopter is not really designed to be used for investigation of terrain but more as just a proof of concept of flight, I would imagine the choice of area would be wide open and flat.

Here's what I've got so far about upcoming events.

1. The helicopter below the rover limits ground clearance so it is vital that the helicopter phase be early in the drives so the rover is not limited in mobility.

2. The main purpose of the helicopter is proof of concept of Mars flight so the emphasis is not using it for exploration/route planning/research photography but merely that we can sustain flight - take off, fly autonomously, and land safely.

3. Once deposited on the surface, it will take a number of days of check outs prior to the first real flight.

Should we create a new topic that is discussion about the helicopter?
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mcaplinger
post Mar 7 2021, 06:35 PM
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QUOTE (Art Martin @ Mar 7 2021, 08:35 AM) *
Should we create a new topic that is discussion about the helicopter?

You could, but at this point, it would likely have nothing in it but speculation from those who don't know and silent frustration from those who know but can't say. wink.gif

All of your observations are completely accurate as far as I know.


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nprev
post Mar 7 2021, 06:37 PM
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New topic created.


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mcaplinger
post Mar 7 2021, 07:56 PM
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https://trs.jpl.nasa.gov/bitstream/handle/2...L%2317-6243.pdf

QUOTE
After landing, the rover will begin traversing to the closest ROI. On the way to the ROI, using orbital data, the rover could be directed to areas that likely meet the requirements for deploying the helicopter and flying the technology demonstration sorties. These areas would have to have low slopes and sufficient surface texture for accurate tracking by the demonstratorís navigation filter during flight and few rocks higher than 5 cm to interfere with its landing. The rover would need to image the area being considered at higher resolution than from orbit using stereo rover Navigation camera images to determine if it meets the requirements. If the area for landed helicopter operations is a patch about 10m◊10m and outbound sorties lengths are 100 m, then analysis of orbital images and stereo digital elevation models indicates that the rover would need to traverse less than 200 m in over 90% of the landing ellipses to find suitable areas for deploying and flying the helicopter.



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mcaplinger
post Mar 7 2021, 08:33 PM
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Some interesting info in https://trs.jpl.nasa.gov/bitstream/handle/2...L%2318-3381.pdf -- stuff in JPL TRS is circa 2018 so might be out of date though.


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Art Martin
post Mar 8 2021, 06:26 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Mar 7 2021, 01:33 PM) *
Some interesting info in https://trs.jpl.nasa.gov/bitstream/handle/2...L%2318-3381.pdf -- stuff in JPL TRS is circa 2018 so might be out of date though.


Fascinating stuff. From what I read there could be (after all primary mission objectives are met) a flight to land at a new parking place up to 500m away. Like you say though these projections could be outdated.
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Pando
post Mar 8 2021, 08:54 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Mar 7 2021, 12:33 PM) *
Some interesting info in https://trs.jpl.nasa.gov/bitstream/handle/2...L%2318-3381.pdf -- stuff in JPL TRS is circa 2018 so might be out of date though.


Great info there. One thing that caught my eye was the future use of a helicopter as "Fetcher":

QUOTE
ē Fetchers go carry something from one place to another"
ē Like collected rock samples to a single pile for Mars Sample Return

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Art Martin
post Mar 9 2021, 02:20 PM
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According to a post on Twitter the rover has moved to an area where drop off may occur. I was looking at the images and GIF's of them testing the range of motion of the arm and I'll bet that it will be used to take photos of the underbelly as the pan is dropped off and the helicopter unfolded and deployed. Sherlock should get it's first real workout.
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Explorer1
post Mar 12 2021, 03:00 AM
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Helicopter lecture starting now:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoLYqFB6kVY
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Art Martin
post Mar 12 2021, 02:58 PM
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Well my suspicions were confirmed as we got the first Watson pictures of the underbelly of the rover today. With the timing of that press conference about the helicopter my guess is the dropping of the pan is very likely happening very soon.

Edit: This got me to learn some debayering techniques so here's the image.

Perserverance Underbelly Watson
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Art Martin
post Mar 13 2021, 05:23 PM
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I had no idea about the cover for the sample extraction system so I was obviously premature with thinking the cover for Ingenuity would be the next thing removed. Thrilled with the underbelly panoramas and animations of that drop. My question to anyone more familiar with the operations is will the rover now move away from that dropped cover before ejecting Ingenuity's cover or can they both be dropped in the same place. I would think that they'd be concerned Ingenuity's cover might roll over the other one and limit ground clearance. If so, I imagine the next step after full checkouts and photos of the sample retrieval system would be a short drive to be clear of the first cover drop to set up the next.
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mcaplinger
post Mar 13 2021, 05:56 PM
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QUOTE (Art Martin @ Mar 13 2021, 09:23 AM) *
My question to anyone more familiar with the operations is will the rover now move away from that dropped cover before ejecting Ingenuity's cover or can they both be dropped in the same place.

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/ma...ion/spacecraft/
QUOTE
The debris shield will remain in place until just days before Ingenuity is deployed to the surface... About 60 days after landing, the delivery system will deploy the helicopter...

I'm not sure if the timetable in the press kit still holds, but this suggests that the heli debris shield drop won't happen soon, considering that https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/body/ said
QUOTE
Note that for new Sampling and Caching interior workspace, the belly pan in that front end of the rover is dropped soon after the rover lands.



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Art Martin
post Mar 14 2021, 05:43 AM
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Thanks for the reply.

I remember certainly that discussion about the 60 days before deployment when they really had no clue what their landing area would look like but I also remember in the detailed explanation that the 60 days may be required to find an adequate flat spot free of obstacles to deploy it. We saw Twitter posts just this last week that seemed to indicate they've found that spot. I also remember someone being asked about it in early press conferences and saying that as long as the helicopter is tucked under the rover, the ground clearance was affected limiting where the rover might potentially drive so I would think getting the helicopter demo "over with" is truly in the best interest of the primary science mission. It is probably wishful thinking on my part to believe that 60 days is a fluid number and put out there to dampen expectations and impatience. The Twitter posts and the recent news conference/seminar concentrating on Ingenuity's operations seem to be doing exactly the opposite for the public of getting the excitement and anticipation going. We'll find out soon. In the end nobody should be disappointed with the timetables the rover team follow and I fully trust their judgment.

Until we begin getting regular mission updates, speculation on timings or drive directions is really all we have. With MSL they'll put in their update a basic calendar of upcoming events such as drilling and sampling or drives all subject to change of course due to days with missed communications or aborted actions. So far we're finding out about Perseverance's events after the fact although the raw images are coming down in real time giving wonderful hints. It's been amazing so far.
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Mogster
post Mar 14 2021, 09:17 AM
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A planned 5 flights have been mentioned previously.

Is that a hard limit or as with the rovers will they continue operations until they canít fly anymore?
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Art Martin
post Mar 14 2021, 04:04 PM
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QUOTE (Mogster @ Mar 14 2021, 02:17 AM) *
A planned 5 flights have been mentioned previously.

Is that a hard limit or as with the rovers will they continue operations until they canít fly anymore?


This has some speculation in it. We have not had any specific answers about your question that I can think of from Ingenuity's team.

Ingenuity cannot communicate directly from Earth, requires commands from the rover to receive it's programming for flights so, if the cold doesn't kill it from batteries not getting fully charged and operating heaters, the only possible scenario I can see where it can continue flying, since the engineers are going to want to move the rover and test its long drive capabilities, would be for those extra flights to be follow flights (or flying to a the rover's planned destination) where the helicopter ends up in the near vicinity of the rover. I cannot imagine, if it's still working perfectly after the initial flights, that they'd simply leave it to die but there could be data constraints as well. Ultimately, once that test is done, all of the emphasis goes to the science operations. Now, if some follow command takes nearly no time preparing it and the data to send it and receive the day's images from it are small data volumes then it might be around for awhile. I would bet any flights beyond the 5 are going to be far more risky in nature if it happens. What you probably wouldn't see though is a flight that could result in Ingenuity failing over the top of the rover.
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