Author: Vittorio Netti
Purpose of EVA:
Testing the automatic mission capabilities of the "Palantir" fixes wing drone (Partial Success)
Collecting aerial photos of the Martian surface (Success)
Testing the assisting landing capabilities of the drone (Success)
Testing the ground control station during the auto mission mode (Success)
Start time: 17:00 AM
End time: 18:00 AM
The purpose of this EVA was to perform the first automatic mission of "Palantir", our fixed-wing drone. Since the mission required just two members, we were able to bring all the mission equipment in the airlock with us. The equipment was composed by:
– Palantir drone
– Ex Case 1 (pressurized)
– Ground Station Tripod
Spirit departed from the hab with 100% of battery.
We drove along the Cow Dung Road 0110, direction south, on an average speed of 10mph until the marked point (Waypoint 0). Once on the place, we decided to move back on the road of 50m in order to place the ground control antenna in the closest point to the center of the operation area.
We unloaded the rover and proceeded to assemble the ground control station and the drone.
The wind raised to a speed of 8-10mph so we decided to wait some minutes before the launch, performing some aptitude test of the drone main control surfaces. After 12 minutes, around 5:32 pm, we finally decided to proceed to the launch, that has been made with the hand-launch technic. The drone has been driven at the height of 30m in manual mode, and then the auto-mode has been activated by the GCS (Ground Control Station).
The drone started its planned mission smoothly, raising to the altitude of 100m during the first seconds. The entire mission has been followed in real time thanks to the perfect connection between the drone telemetry module and the GCS.
Due to the time lost for the high winds, we decided to interrupt the mission at 70%, in order to return in time to the hab. I’ve taken back the direct control of the drone in order to perform a manual landing. The landing has been achieved through the use of the assisted-piloting feature, that integrates the direct control from the pilot with the flight control unit capabilities.
Once the "Palantir" has been recovered, at 15m from the take-off coordinates, the rover has been loaded again, and the crew left the place at 5:51 pm.
Spirit arrived at the hab with 78% of battery.
The analysis of the photographic material collected during the flight is still on-going, but you can already appreciate the outstanding images that are coming from the flight attached to this message.
The mission can be considered a complete success.
(The route followed by the drone during its flight is highlighted in the EVA analysis map)
Destination: North area of Kissing Camel Ridge E
Coordinates: (UTM NAD27 CONUS): 518231.00 E, 4249778.00 N, Zone 12S
EVA Participants: Vittorio Netti (Commander), Paolo Guardabasso (Medic),
Road(s) and routes per MDRS Map: Cow Dung Road 0110
Mode of travel: driving