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Ingenuity – The Martian drone is ready for take-off

by Fabio Affortunato
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 3 minutes / minuti

Update 11.04.2021

Unfortunately, due to an error recorded during a high-speed spin test of the rotors of the small drone-UAS Ingenuity, Ingenuity’s first flight in the Martian atmosphere has been postponed. The next attempt, if all pre-flight checks are positive, is postponed to April 14th. Fingers crossed and await communications from NASA!

In the meantime, I am attaching some interesting resources, made available by NASA, for the little ones:

April is definitely the month of Ingenuity, the martian UAS-drone landed on Mars with the NASA Perseverance probe “dumped” on the red planet on 18 February 2021 at 21:55 Italian time.

In fact, this month is full of commitments for Ingenuity:

  • April 4: Ingenuity was released by Perseverance on the Martian surface in preparation for what will be the first UAS-drone flight to another planet. Below is the image captured by the Perseverance Hazard camera after the release of Ingenuity in the flight area, on the 44th day of the mission;
  • April 9 4.00 p.m .: pre-flight meeting; channels that will broadcast the live broadcast include:YouTube & Facebook;
  • April 12 6.30 pm: Live broadcast: first results of the test flight of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. Channels that will broadcast the live broadcast include YouTube & Facebook.

As specified in the section of the NASA website relating to Ingenuity, in the sessions of April 9 and 12 it will also be possible to ask live questions about the drone-UAS Ingenuity, its mission and other related aspects.


Drone-UAS Ingenuity after release seen from Perseverance – Source NASA

Ingenuity – The specs of the Martian UAS-drone

Accustomed as we are to the specifications of terrestrial UAS-drones such as DJI Mini 2 or Mavic, where the flight time, weight and the equipment of payloads are the fundamental elements, it is interesting to know the technical specifications (specs in English) of a UAS-drone. for extraterrestrial flight as in the case of Ingenuity (link NASA website):


Ingenuity – Technical specs – Source NASA

It should be noted that compared to a mass of 1.8 kg which on Earth corresponds to a weight of 1.81437 kg, on Mars Ingenuity has a weight of only 680 grams, therefore it can be driven without pilot certificate A1-A3 ;-)))).

Obviously flight time, maximum distance and height are absolutely not comparable with a terrestrial UAS-drone!


Ingenuity schema – Source NASA

Ingenuity – Other milestones

Waiting the first flight mission of Ingenuity, after its release on the cold Martian soil on April 4th, there are other important milestones that Ingenuity must complete both before its take-off, and to consider its mission completed, which consist of:

  • unlock the rotor blades,
  • spin the rotor blades on Mars for the first time (at a speed slower than necessary for flight) while still on the surface,
  • spin the rotor blades at full speed for the first time on Mars (at the planned flight speed of ~ 2400 RPM) while still on the surface,
  • take off for the first time in the thin Martian atmosphere,
  • fly autonomously,
  • land successfully.

On the other hand, the small UAS-drone has already given proof of endurance, completing the following operations (milestones):

  • survive the launch, sail to Mars and land on the Red Planet,
  • unlock and open from its hidden location under the roof of the Perseverance rover,
  • deploy safely on the Martian surface,
  • confirm communications with the rover and flight operators on Earth,
  • autonomously staying warm during the freezing Martian night (down to minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 90 degrees Celsius),
  • charge autonomously using its solar panel,
  • confirm the energy and power pattern over multiple Martian days (monitoring of daily energy consumption, solar energy and battery levels).

Awaiting the first Ingenuity flight attempt scheduled for April 12, 2021, at 16:00, we just have to wait, and reflect that any idea on the use of UAS-drones as research tools or professional use can be important and represent a business opportunity.

In this regard, I would like to remind those interested in developing business opportunities with UAS drones the only organization with technical and operational knowledge able to support the development of projects with UAS drones: DroneStartUp.

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Credits about images: The cover image is taken from the NASA website, the author is Tony Greicius. The images in the post are taken from the NASA website (link) and are owned by NASA. The use of the images is exclusively for the purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article.

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 01/05/2021

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