Historic attempt: Norwegian man could fly first helicopter on Mars

Håvard Fjær GripPhoto: Privat / NTB scanpix
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Trøndelag resident Håvard Fjær Grip is leading the historic attempt to fly on another planet for the first time.

Now the vessel is on its way to Mars.

The launch vehicle carrying the first flying vessel to Mars was launched from the NASA base in Cape Canaveral in late July.

Live images at the time showed that the launch was successful. 

The vessel is expected to reach the neighboring red planet in February of 2021.

The American rocket is on course for Mars with a land vessel called “Perseverance” and a mini-helicopter called “Ingenuity.” 

The latter will try to become the first flying vessel on another planet.

One criterion for success

The Norwegian Håvard Fjær Grip is leading the historic experiment and will steer the small helicopter on the surface of the red planet from Earth.

The project’s purpose is to conduct experimental test flights to demonstrate that it is possible to use helicopters for exploration on Mars. 

At the longest, “Ingenuity” will be able to fly 90 seconds a day. 

The team hopes to be able to carry out up to five flights in a month.

“The only criterion for success for us is whether we manage to fly on Mars for the first time in history. We believe there is a high probability of making it happen,” Grip told news bureau NTB in July.

Challenges

The small helicopter weighs 1.8 kilos, and the two rotors are 1.2 meters long. 

There are several challenges – not knowing what the terrain will look like when they land is among them.

Due to the time difference between Mars and Earth, Grip will not be able to control the helicopter in real-time, but instead, use coded commands and artificial intelligence.

There is a lot that is uncertain, but Grip believes there is nothing more they can do.

“We have done what we can to prepare,” he noted.

Grip has a master’s degree in cybernetics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). 

He works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Los Angeles.

The land vessel “Perseverance” is the largest, most sophisticated rover ever built. 

Among other things, it will collect rocks and take soil samples that will be transported back to Earth to be analyzed.

The rover must spend an entire Martian year, equivalent to 687 Earth days, on the surface.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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