NASA’s “High Risk, High Reward” Ingenuity helicopter leans on the rewards. It completed its fourth and most ambitious test flight over Mars on Friday. “Success,”
NASA also shared a beautiful image from one of Perseverance’s rover cameras showing the helicopter in flight in the distance.
Invention had, but a known fault prevented the rotorcraft from switching to flight mode. The chopper remained safe and sound and ready for repeat.
The plan for the latest test was to fly the helicopter to a height of 5 meters, collect images of the landscape below, soar over and then go back to the starting point. The flight path was set to take the descending 436 feet (133 meters) and last 117 seconds.
It takes time to send the data back from Mars, but NASA expects to receive a lot of photos taken by the helicopter during the flight. This helps prove the potential of the rotor craft for use as a scout that can assist surface vehicles as rovers as they explore from the ground.
NASA said the crooked helicopter has already “met or exceeded all of its technical goals.” It gave the helicopter crew license to test the more daring fourth flight to push its capabilities into Mars’ thin atmosphere.
Ingenuity will soon enter a new demonstration phase if its planned fifth flight is also successful. The next phase will prioritize endurance and look at how ingenuity can help the rover’s mission to study Mars and look for signs of ancient microbial life.
Endurance is on the go and looking for interesting rocks to check out. Ingenuity can try to tag along. “The helicopter can use these capabilities to perform aerial observations of rover scientific targets, potential rover routes and inaccessible functions, while also taking stereo images for digital elevation maps,” NASA said in a statement Friday.
The rotorcraft no longer needs to prove that driven, controlled flight is possible on another planet. It’s done and more. Every flight from here and out will just add its heritage from the air.
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