NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, has exceeded the mission team’s expectations for a small drone-like machine.
Since its first flight on the surface of Mars in April 2021, in which it became the first aircraft to perform a powered, controlled flight on another planet, Ingenuity has continuously conducted complex flights, and even ground-based rovers, Also helped with perseverance. Ingenuity traveled from Earth to Mars before its spectacular touchdown in February 2021.
In the past month alone, the 4-pound, 19-inch long helicopter has set three records. In early October, it set a new altitude record by climbing 79 feet (24 meters) above the surface of the Red Planet, and a little later it reached a record speed of 22.4 miles per hour (10 meters per second) during its 62nd flight. Its previous speed record was 17.9 mph (8 m/s).
And now NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is overseeing the Ingenuity mission, has announced a new first for the helicopter: back-to-back flights on consecutive days.
The flights – the 65th and 66th for Ingenuity – took place with JPL on November 2 and 3. confirmation of their success on Tuesday.
The 65th flight for Ingenuity was relatively short, covering a distance of only 23 feet (7 m). But the next flight was even shorter, moving it just a few feet to prepare for a two-week communications shutdown with JPL.
This unavoidable event is the result of a phenomenon known as solar conjunction when the orbits of Earth and Mars place the two planets on opposite sides of the Sun, blocking communications for about two weeks. Solar conjunctions involving Mars occur once every two years and so the JPL team has already successfully encountered one in September 2021.
Ingenuity and Perseverance will be back to work when communications resume later this month. For the rover, this means further exploration of the Martian surface as it searches for evidence of ancient microbial life. Ingenuity, meanwhile, will continue to provide aerial imagery to Perseverance to help operators plan their routes in challenging terrain, while helping engineers design more advanced versions of the helicopter for future missions. Will also give data for.