NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Recharges Its Batteries in Flight

Headed to the Red Planet with the Perseverance rover, the pioneering helicopter is powered up for the first time in interplanetary space as part of a systems check.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter received a checkout and recharge
of its power system on Friday, Aug. 7, one week into its near seven-month
journey to Mars with the Perseverance rover. This marks the first
time the helicopter has been powered up and its batteries have been charged in
the space environment.

the eight-hour operation, the performance of the rotorcraft’s six
lithium-ion batteries was analyzed as the team brought their charge level up to 35%.
The project has determined a low charge state is optimal for battery health during
the cruise to Mars.

was a big milestone, as it was our first opportunity to turn on Ingenuity and give
its electronics a ‘test drive’ since we launched on July 30,” said Tim
Canham, the operations lead for Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Southern California. “Since everything went by the book, we’ll
perform the same activity about every two weeks to maintain an acceptable state
of charge.”

4-pound (2-kilogram)
helicopter – a combination of specially designed components and off-the-shelf
parts – is
currently stowed on Perseverance’s belly and receives its charge from the
rover’s power supply. Once Ingenuity is deployed on Mars’ surface after Perseverance touches down, its
batteries will be charged solely by the helicopter’s own solar panel. If Ingenuity
survives the cold Martian nights during its preflight checkout, the team will
proceed with testing.

charge activity shows we have survived launch and that so far we can handle the
harsh environment of interplanetary space,” said MiMi Aung, the Ingenuity
Mars Helicopter project manager at JPL. “We have a lot more firsts to go
before we can attempt the first experimental flight test on another planet, but
right now we are all feeling very good about the future.”

The small craft will have
a 30-Martian-day (31-Earth-day) experimental flight-test window. If it succeeds,
Ingenuity will prove that powered, controlled flight by an aircraft can be
achieved at Mars, enabling future Mars missions to potentially add an aerial
dimension to their explorations with second-generation rotorcraft.

About the Mission

by Caltech in Pasadena, California, JPL built and manages the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
for NASA. Lockheed
Martin Space provided the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.

Perseverance is a robotic
scientist weighing just under 2,300 pounds (1,025 kilograms). The rover’s astrobiology mission will search for
signs of past microbial life. It will characterize the planet’s climate and
geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human
exploration of the Red Planet.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance
rover mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as
a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with
returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human
presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis
lunar exploration plans

For more information on
the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, go to:

For more information about
the Perseverance Mars rover mission, go to:

For more information about
NASA’s Mars missions, go to:

News Media Contact

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Grey Hautaluoma / Alana Johnson

Headquarters, Washington

202-358-0668 / 202-358-1501 /


Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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