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Tue, Nov 28, 2023

NASA JPL Designing Rotors for Next-Gen Mars Helo

Ingenuity Design Program Ongoing Across Swath of Solar System

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has begun testing a new rotor design for future Martian rotorcraft, building on the lessons learned from the current Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

Testing began at the JPL lab in Southern California, spinning away at a top speed of 0.95 Mach in Earth's atmosphere. The team was happy to point out that the development program has now been ongoing with assets on two separate planets simultaneously.

“Our next-generation Mars helicopter testing has literally had the best of both worlds,” said Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity’s project manager and manager for the Mars Sample Recovery Helicopters. “Here on Earth, you have all the instrumentation and hands-on immediacy you could hope for while testing new aircraft components. On Mars, you have the real off-world conditions you could never truly re-create here on Earth.” That includes a whisper-thin atmosphere and significantly less gravity than on Earth.

The new blades are composed of pure carbon fiber, with an additional 4 inches of blade length on top of Ingenuity's 1st generation ones. Applied experience has resulted in greater strength and an improved payload - future Mars aircraft will be bigger and more capable than the current flyweight one.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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