Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Ingenuity’s fifth flight later today

The flight path of Ingenuity's fourth flight
The flight path of Ingenuity’s 3rd and 4th flights.
Click for original image.

According to Ingenuity’s engineering team, the helicopter will make its fifth flight today, and unlike the previous flights, it will not return to is initial take-off point, but will instead land to the south, putting it in a better position to tag along with Perseverance. As noted by Josh Ravitch, Ingenuity’s mechanical engineering lead at JPL,

We are traveling to a new base because this is the direction Perseverance is going, and if we want to continue to demonstrate what can be done from an aerial perspective, we have to go where the rover goes.

The map to the right show’s the flight paths of Ingenuity’s third and fourth flights, with the fourth heading south. Based on the data obtained they scouted out its likely landing place for the fifth flight.

[The] targeted takeoff time is 12:33 p.m. local Mars time (3:26 p.m. EDT, or 12:26 p.m. PDT), with data coming down at 7:31 p.m. EDT (4:31 p.m. PDT). Ingenuity will take off at Wright Brothers Field – the same spot where the helicopter took off and touched back down on all the other flights – but it will land elsewhere, which is another first for our rotorcraft. Ingenuity will climb to 16 feet (5 meters), then retrace its course from flight four, heading south 423 feet (129 meters).

This April 30th Ingenuity update by Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot, provides a very detailed explanation of what they are learning about flight on Mars, describing issues of take-off, landing, dust, and maneuvering. Engineers (or any geeks in general) will find Grip’s commentary most interesting.


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  • Read the link. Great stuff! (Apologies, Wayne). The ‘coptor is wired, and a lot of data has been gathered on flying in a non-Earth environment.

    Having read, and written, a number of engineering reports, I was amused by some of the language:

    ” . . . possibly resulting in undefined behavior.”

    ” . . . which is important in order to avoid detecting touchdown prematurely.”

    Writing the book, right now.

  • A. Nonymous

    Allright, stupid question time. Ingenuity is often described as a helicopter, but it’s closer in size to a quadcopter drone.

    So… does Ingenuity use lift or thrust?

  • As was sometimes said of the F-4 Phantom II: “With enough thrust, anything can fly.”

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