Mars Helicopter completes fiftieth flight, 45 greater than NASA deliberate

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was designed to fly simply 5 instances, however final week the little rotorcraft that would clocked up its fiftieth flight within the pink planet’s skinny environment.

Flight 50 departed Airfield Lambda on April thirteenth and required 145.7 seconds to succeed in Airfield Mu, a 322-meter flight at a brisk 4.6 meters per second, cruising at a brand new top document of 18 meters above Martian soil.

On The Register’s evaluation of NASA’s flight log Ingenuity’s data are:

  • Longest period flight – 169.5 seconds on August sixteenth, 2021, throughout flight 12
  • Longest distance – 704 meters on April eighth, 2022, throughout flight 25
  • Quickest flight – 6.5 meters per second on April 2nd, 2023, throughout flight 49
  • Whole flight time – 5,349.9 seconds, or simply over 89 minutes
  • Whole horizontal flight distance – 11,546 meters

“After we first flew, we thought we’d be extremely fortunate to eke out 5 flights,” mentioned Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity staff lead at JPL, in a weblog publish celebrating the fiftieth flight . “Now we have exceeded our anticipated cumulative flight time since our know-how demonstration wrapped by 1,250 % and anticipated distance flown by 2,214 %.”

The Ingenuity staff is now planning a 51st flight to convey the ‘copter near the “Fall River Cross” area of Jezero Crater. Future flights will head in the direction of “Mount Julian,” from the place the craft will get pleasure from panoramic views of the close by Belva Crater, an 800-metre dent in Mars’ floor.

“We’re not in Martian Kansas anymore,” acknowledged Josh Anderson, Ingenuity operations lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, within the abovementioned weblog publish. “We’re flying over the dried-up remnants of an historic river that’s crammed with sand dunes, boulders, and rocks, and surrounded by hills that would have us for lunch. And whereas we just lately upgraded the navigation software program onboard to assist decide protected airfields, each flight continues to be a white-knuckler.”

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The fiftieth flight publish states “Ingenuity may even fly at a better frequency within the coming days as a result of the helicopter wants to stay inside digital earshot of the [Perseverance ] rover. With its AutoNav functionality, Perseverance can journey lots of of meters every day.

“Ingenuity depends on Perseverance to behave as a communications relay between it and mission controllers right here at JPL,” mentioned Anderson. “If the rover will get too far forward or disappears behind a hill, we might lose communications. The rover staff has a job to do and a schedule to maintain. So it’s crucial Ingenuity retains up and is within the lead at any time when doable.”

The need for the helicopter to guide the rover displays the craft’s evolution from experiment to ahead scout, a job that’s confirmed so helpful NASA now usually suggests rotorcraft will accompany future planetary probes. The company already plans to launch one other ‘copter, the “Dragonfly” that’s anticipated to succeed in Jovian moon Titan in 2034 after leaving Earth in 2026.

Again on Mars, NASA is utilizing Ingenuity’s success to think about the function of helicopters in its plan to convey samples gathered by Perseverance again to Earth. ®