April 16, 2021

As NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter makes progress towards its first test flight, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has begun preparing to test the MOXIE technology demonstration that converts Martian air into oxygen, and investigating some nearby rocks with its science instruments. This video provides a mission update from Ingenuity Chief Engineer Bob Balaram, and Perseverance Project Scientist Ken Farley.

Ingenuity is the first aircraft on Mars and will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. If Ingenuity succeeds, future Mars exploration could include an aerial dimension.

For more information on Perseverance, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance.

For more information on the Ingenuity Mars helicopter, visit https://go.nasa.gov/ingenuity.


[Raquel Villanueva] NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter have been busy after landing on the Red Planet a few weeks ago. Today we are joined by Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley and Ingenuity Chief Engineer Bob Balaram to get an update on what’s happening with the rover and Ingenuity helicopter. Bob, can you give us the latest update on Ingenuity?

[Bob Balaram] Yes, we have been working on a fix to a problem that has prevented us from going into flight mode, where we can spin the rotors up fast. We have both a long-term fix that’s making its way to the spacecraft as well as some workarounds that we sent on Thursday. And we just got the results on Friday and we will be analyzing those results to see what the high speed spin looked like. And that should let us get back on track with the rest of our flight experiments.

[Raquel Villanueva] And what does that mean for first flight?

[Bob Balaram] I think it means that we’ll be done with the commissioning if the results from this all look good and we’ll then be really be ready to take off on that first flight. So it’s good progress to have and we’re looking forward to being in the flying phase and getting past the commissioning phase.

[Raquel Villanueva] That’s good to hear Bob. Now Ken, there’s another technology demonstration gearing up on Perseverance - can you tell us about MOXIE and what it plans to do?

[Ken Farley] Sure. MOXIE is part of Perseverance’s technology demonstration payload, as is the helicopter. And MOXIE is a small device that will convert the carbon dioxide of the Martian atmosphere into oxygen as a demonstration of this capability for future missions that might bring astronauts to Mars who would benefit greatly by not having to bring oxygen with them. So MOXIE is a demonstration that this capability will actually work on Mars. And we’re very excited as part of the early parts of this mission to be testing out our new technologies and we expect that the first run of the MOXIE investigation will be within the next couple of weeks.

[Raquel Villanueva] Great. And what science has Perseverance been working on over the last week or so?

[Ken Farley] We have been studying rocks as we have been investigating the area where the helicopter is going to fly. And as we drove out to our observation point where we can watch the helicopter at a safe distance, we have been exploring the rocks that are up close to the rover, trying to understand whether they are volcanic rocks or sedimentary rocks. Were they produced by a volcano or were they deposited by water?

[Raquel Villanueva] Thank you. Thank you Ken and thank you Bob. To get the latest, follow @NASAJPL and @NASAPersevere on social media for the latest updates. Take a deeper dive on the mission’s website, mars.nasa.gov/perseverance, where you can also find all the raw images being sent back by the rover, and go to go.nasa.gov/ingenuity for the latest updates on the helicopter. Thanks for watching.




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