#astronomy NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Enters New Part of Flight – Sky & Telescope

May 4, 2021 - Comment

Ingenuity on Sol 48, as imaged by Perseverance’s left Mastcam-Z digicam. NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made historical past, with the primary powered flight on one other planet. Since then, the helicopter has flown farther, increased, and quicker on successive flights. Now, NASA introduced on Friday that


IngenuityIngenuity on Sol 48, as imaged by Perseverance’s left Mastcam-Z digicam.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made historical past, with the primary powered flight on one other planet. Since then, the helicopter has flown farther, increased, and quicker on successive flights. Now, NASA introduced on Friday that it’ll finish the one-month demonstration part for the intrepid helicopter, and lengthen its operational capabilities for at the very least one other month.

“The Ingenuity know-how demonstration has been a powerful success,” says affiliate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen (NASA Science Mission Directorate) in a latest press launch. “Since Ingenuity stays in wonderful well being, we plan to make use of it to learn future aerial platforms whereas prioritizing and transferring ahead with the Perseverance rover group’s near-term science objectives.”

Ingenuity was set to finish its fourth flight final Thursday, April 29th, earlier than a software program glitch brought on the helicopter to fail to transition into flight mode. Mars is at the moment about 17 light-minutes distant, which means the helicopter is by itself to hold out flights. NASA engineers fastened the glitch and re-uploaded the pre-flight program to the helicopter through the worldwide Deep Area Community. The flight was profitable the very subsequent day, on April 30th.

The helicopter flew for 117 seconds, reached an altitude of four.9 meters (16 ft), and ranged out over a round-trip of 266 meters to the south, snapping photos alongside the best way, earlier than it returned to the Wright Brothers Area touchdown website. Ingenuity broke its personal flight pace document on this flight, transferring at a most of three.5 meters per second (7.eight mph).

Simply one other day on Mars, taking pictures video of a flying helicopter. Fast preview of #MarsHelicopter’s Flight four takeoff beneath; extra pics and video but to return.

Typical photographer: a lot of gear to juggle and mountains of information to add! Latest pics at: https://t.co/L6lhCNdqWq pic.twitter.com/jpJHeDuQcA

— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) April 30, 2021

The rover is on the transfer once more as effectively. On Sol 66 (April 26th), Perseverance drove 10 meters south of the Jakob van Zyl overlook, resuming its seek for new science targets.

Ingenuity's shadow on MarsIngenuity sees its shadow throughout flight three.
NASA / JPL-Caltech

“We have now appreciated the assist supplied by the Perseverance rover group throughout our know-how and demonstration part,” says MiMi Aung (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in a latest press launch. “Now we’ve an opportunity to pay it ahead, demonstrating for future robotic and even crewed missions the advantages of getting a accomplice close by that may present a distinct perspective.”

The half-meter-high helicopter is gentle, at four kilos (1.eight kilograms), and photo voltaic powered. Two pairs of counter-rotating blades spin at 2,500 rpm to create elevate towards the tenuous Martian environment, which has only one% the density of Earth’s air at sea degree. Ingenuity doesn’t carry any science payloads, nevertheless it does have a laser altimeter, a 13-megapixel shade digicam, and a zero.5-megapixel black-and-white digicam onboard. Ingenuity depends on Perseverance to speak with Earth however can vary as much as a few kilometer from the rover.

Ingenuity images PerseverancePerseverance (higher left) as imaged from Ingenuity in flight.
NASA / JPL / Caltech

The one-month extension transitions Ingenuity from a know-how demonstration, merely displaying that flight is feasible on Mars, to an operations mission that demonstrates strategies and strategies for future aerial missions.

Look ahead to flight 5 — the ultimate deliberate checkout flight — to happen someday this week, no sooner than Might seventh. In one other first, Ingenuity will depart the Wright Brothers Area website for good, flying downrange to a brand new touchdown website. That is riskier than earlier flights, because the helicopter should land on the new website by itself. Alongside the best way, the helicopter will snap photos from its aerial perspective of the brand new terrain forward of Perseverance rover, one other plus for the mission.

Landing site, as imaged by IngenuityPerseverance vs. the Octavia E. Butler touchdown website, as seen from Ingenuity.
NASA / JPL-Caltech

Anticipate to see the flight cadence to decelerate throughout this new operational part, from a flight each 2 to three days, to at least one each 2 to three weeks. In June, NASA will assess Ingenuity’s efficiency. Nevertheless, August’s photo voltaic conjunction, when the Solar comes between Earth and Mars and disrupts radio communication, will most likely spell the tip for Ingenuity.

Perseverance has already been an incredible mission since its sky hook touchdown in Jezero Crater on the Octavia E. Butler touchdown website on February 18, 2021. It is going to be thrilling to see Ingenuity fly on in coming weeks as a robotic scout for the Perseverance rover.

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