NASA Perseverance Rover heads to Mars -- Houston, we have a helicopter

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
Staff Member




Full launch vid:


Highlights:



Ingenuity Mars Helicopter feature:



First spacesuit materials sent to Mars to be scanned:

NASA is preparing to send the first woman and next man to the Moon, part of a larger strategy to send the first astronauts to the surface of Mars. But before they get there, they'll be faced with a critical question: What should they wear on Mars, where the thin atmosphere allows more radiation from the Sun and cosmic rays to reach the ground?

Amy Ross is looking for answers. An advanced spacesuit designer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, she's developing new suits for the Moon and Mars. So Ross is eagerly awaiting this summer's launch of the Perseverance Mars rover, which will carry the first samples of spacesuit material ever sent to the Red Planet.

While the rover explores Jezero Crater, collecting rock and soil samples for future return to Earth, five small pieces of spacesuit material will be studied by an instrument aboard Perseverance called SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals). The materials, including a piece of helmet visor, are embedded alongside a fragment of a Martian meteorite in SHERLOC's calibration target. That's what scientists use to make sure an instrument's settings are correct, comparing readings on Mars to base-level readings they got on Earth.

Read on as Ross shares insights into the materials chosen and the differences between suits designed for the Moon and those for Mars. More information about SHERLOC and the rover's science can be found here.

Why were these particular materials on SHERLOC's calibration target selected?

Ross:
The materials we're poking at the most are meant to be on the outer layer of a suit, since these will be exposed to the most radiation. There's ortho-fabric, something we have a lot of experience using on the outside of spacesuits. That's three materials in one: It includes Nomex, a flame-resistant material found in firefighter outfits; Gore-Tex, which is waterproof but breathable; and Kevlar, which has been used in bulletproof vests.

We are also testing a sample of Vectran on its own, which we currently use for the palms of spacesuit gloves. It's cut-resistant, which is useful on the International Space Station: Micrometeoroids strike handrails outside the station, creating pits with sharp edges that can cut gloves.

We included a sample of Teflon, which we've used in spacesuits for a long time as part of astronaut glove gauntlets and the backs of gloves. Just like a nonstick pan, it's slippery, and it's harder to catch and tear a fabric if it's slick. We also included a sample of Teflon with a dust-resistant coating.

Finally, there's a piece of polycarbonate, which we use for helmet bubbles and visors because it helps reduce ultraviolet light. A nice thing about it is it doesn't shatter. If impacted, it bends rather than breaks and still has good optical properties.

How will SHERLOC check the samples?

Ross:
On Mars, radiation will break down the chemical composition of the materials, weakening their tensile strength. We want to figure out how long these materials will last. Do we need to develop new materials, or will these hang in there?

SHERLOC can get the spectra, or composition, of rocks the mission's scientists want to study. It can do the same thing for these spacesuit materials. We've already tested them on Earth, bathing samples in radiation and then analyzing their spectra. The results of those tests, conducted in ultraviolet vacuum chambers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, will be compared to what we see on Mars.

Will Martian dust be a challenge?

Ross:
Sure, it's an engineering challenge, but there's no reason we can't design things to operate in dust. We're already developing things like seals that keep dust out of our bearings. Spacesuits have bearings at the shoulders, wrists, hip, upper thighs, and ankles. They all give an astronaut mobility for walking, kneeling, and other movements you'd need to get up close to rocks or maintain a habitat.

Remember, our suits inflate to over 4 pounds per square inch of pressure. That's not a crazy amount of pressure, but it's pretty stiff. When you put a human inside a balloon and ask them to move, they'll have trouble. It's as tight as the head of a drum. So we need to seal off the bearings so dust doesn't gunk them up.

We are looking for other ways to protect the suit from Martian dust over a long-duration mission. We know that a coated or film material will be better than a woven material that has space between the woven yarns. The two Teflon samples let us look at that as well as the performance of the dust-resistant coating.

How much would spacesuit design differ between the space station, the Moon, and Mars?

Ross:
Spacesuit design depends on where you're going and what you're doing. The ISS suit is designed specifically for microgravity. If you go on a spacewalk, you're not really walking; you use your hands everywhere. Your lower torso is just used as a stable platform for your upper body. The suit is also exposed to two environmental sources of degradation: solar radiation and atomic oxygen. Atomic oxygen is different from the oxygen we breathe. It's very reactive and can degrade spacesuit materials.

The Moon doesn't have the atomic oxygen problem but is worse than Mars in terms of radiation. You're pretty close to the Sun and have no atmosphere to scatter the ultraviolet radiation like you do on Mars. The Moon is a big testbed for the Artemis program. The environments of the Moon and Mars aren't exactly the same, but the durability challenges – materials exposed over long periods of time at low pressures in a dusty environment – are similar.

On Mars, you're farther from the Sun, and you have at least a little atmosphere to scatter the UV. But that's when the duration of exposure starts to get you. You have to plan on being exposed on the surface most of the time. Mars spacesuits will be more like ones we use for the Moon and less like those for the ISS. I'm trying to make the Moon suit as much like the Mars suit as possible.
 
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frostyxc

Member
Earth helicopters aren't cool enough now, NASA? What snobs!

I just watched a reply of the launch, and I'm pretty excited about this. SpaceX needs to up their broadcasting game a bit after seeing this one, but I'll give Elon a pass since NASA has been doing this for nearly 60 years.
 

llien

Member
Counter rotating blades. Neat. God, I love science.
USSR had two "lines" of helicopters.
MI - traditional ones (although, Mi-24 is a bit of a weirdo one that needs some velocity to be stable)
KA (Kamov, surname)- welp, counter rotating blades, cause either you have that small propeller on the tail, or CCRB.

If you speak... Russian, a much better link:
 
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My cousin that flies choppers for a living is in love with this thing. Well so I am I really, weighting something like 2kgs is insane.

Also spacesuits are so complex, massive design challenges. There's a lady that's been designing just the gloves for decades I think, specialist role much.
 
With a different atmosphere like Mars, how would that affect lift? Surely planes and other aircraft would have to be at least slightly different, not to mention the difference in gravity
 

Sejan

Member
With a different atmosphere like Mars, how would that affect lift? Surely planes and other aircraft would have to be at least slightly different, not to mention the difference in gravity
The thinner atmosphere will generate less lift requiring a faster rotation for the blades, but that will be easier since a thinner atmosphere will create less friction. Also, less gravity means less lift is required. I don’t know for sure, but my assumption is that lift for a helicopter will, in general, be less than earth, but the problem can be overcome without too much trouble provided that the load is sufficiently small.
 

Rentahamster

Rodent Whores
With a different atmosphere like Mars, how would that affect lift? Surely planes and other aircraft would have to be at least slightly different, not to mention the difference in gravity
There's less air to push around, so you have to spin faster to compensate.
 

CloudNull

Banned
Ingenuity Mars Helicopter feature:



First spacesuit materials sent to Mars to be scanned:

If anyone is curious to know how they recreate the atmosphere for Mars to test things such as Ingenuity or proper deployment of parachutes for the rovers I recommend looking up the Wind tunnel at the Ames Research Center(ARC). It is the biggest Wind Tunnel in the world and insane. I have been fortunate enough to see it IRL and its wild to think people made this. The testing that they do there is incredible. Here is a generic eagle eye view of it..... Pics do not do it justice.


 

Bitmap Frogs

Mr. Community


Aaaaand landing time!

This thursday between 3 and 4 pm EST it's expected that Perseverance lands on Mars!

Here is a link to NASA's fact sheet for a quick list of things like the instruments on board, etc.

This is a CGI of the complicated landing procedure, the infamous 7 minutes of terror that the vehicle has to perform fully autonomously and during which we'll receive no updates.



The new rover comes equipped with a CHOPPER to demonstrate powered flight on Mars, here's a video about it:

 
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Can't wait.

It's too bad neogaf seems to forget about this stuff after some time. I still visit Curiosity's website every day and read the news. I tried to bump the Curiosity thread several times but nobody gave a shit :(
 
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dcll

Banned
Damn and I think my commute from work is long, this sob has been flying at no telling what speed since last year and still traveling
 

Bitmap Frogs

Mr. Community
It's also not easy to politicize. If we could rail on dems or repubs about space exploration it would be a much bigger deal in the media.

There's politics to talk about but since both reds and blues don't care about space boondoogles because neither red nor blue voters give a shit, they both agree to defund NASA.

Red team occasionally gives a fuck because they tend to run Florida and Texas and for flag waving, but no real push.

Truth is, neither party is going to throw an extra 30B/year to NASA to get serious about anything so here we are, surviving at 0,5% of federal budget.
 

Bitmap Frogs

Mr. Community
Open MIC night planned every thursday night FYI

Once those mars recordings start going out, those alien/ufo sites are going to have a field day "analyzing them" for "patterns" and stuff. Before it was just jpegs but now it'll open up a whole new field.

Which reminds me how much it pains me to see our own ufo thread see more activity than a thread with actual spaceflight :cry:
 
Not only are we flying to Mars but we're going to fly around on Mars, well its atmosphere to be exact. So freaking cool.

I wonder what Elon's toys will be when SpaceX launch their first mission to Mars.
 

Kenpachii

Member
Is it not better to just put a satalite in orbid and make high ress screenshots or video's from the surface? what's the point of this helicopter?
 

QSD

Member
Once those mars recordings start going out, those alien/ufo sites are going to have a field day "analyzing them" for "patterns" and stuff. Before it was just jpegs but now it'll open up a whole new field.

Which reminds me how much it pains me to see our own ufo thread see more activity than a thread with actual spaceflight :cry:
I'm pretty much on the fence about the whole UFO thing so can't really sympathize there

I'm certainly curious what Mars sounds like though! I really have no idea what the physics of sound work like in a planet with such a thin atmosphere.
 

Bitmap Frogs

Mr. Community
Is it not better to just put a satalite in orbid and make high ress screenshots or video's from the surface? what's the point of this helicopter?

It's a technology demonstrator to validate that powered flight in Mars is possible.

Powered flight would be a major boon for Mars exploration - because of the way we launch and deliver things we're limited to landing sites around the equator.

The other use is to plan rover drives - satellites are too low res for the kind of resolution needed to drive these things. Having a drone that can provide that resolution without wasting valuable rover time driving there is a big deal - to put things into perspective, in the 7 years curiosity has been on mars, it's barely completed 15 miles.
 
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Aggelos

Member
Guys they have been going to and fro to Mars since the Mariner Program of the '60s. First Mars flyby was done by Mariner 4 in 1965 (15 July 1965)
I'm not against searching of primitive/microbial life on Mars, (which is probably is buried underneath the surface of Mars, since there's lotsa radiation landing on Mars' surface), but I'm holding my breath for the Jovian moon, Europa





Are any of the JUICE or Europa Clipper sample the water plumes that are ejected into space through the icy cracks and crevices of Europa?




 

T8SC

Member
Glad I don't have to wake up at 4am (or whatever it was) like when Curiosity landed in 2012.
 
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