NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter flew for the 37th time on Saturday (Dec. 17), acing a hop made in component to check the capabilities of its new application.
Ingenuity stayed aloft for 55 seconds and covered 203 ft (62 meters) of Pink World floor on the flight, which was its third this month.
The principal objectives of Saturday’s sortie had been for Ingenuity “to reposition by itself and examination new flight software program abilities,” officers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages Ingenuity’s mission, reported by using Twitter (opens in new tab) on Monday (Dec. 19).
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That new application, which was put in very last thirty day period, lets Ingenuity to avoid dangers during landing and to use digital elevation maps for navigation needs, mission staff customers have said (opens in new tab).
The rotorcraft landed on the floor of the Purple Planet’s Jezero Crater in February 2021 with NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is looking for symptoms of previous Mars daily life and accumulating samples for potential return to Earth.
Ingenuity’s most important mission was to demonstrate that aerial exploration is doable on Mars regardless of its skinny atmosphere, which is just 1% as dense as that of Earth at sea stage. The helicopter wrapped up that undertaking over the training course of 5 flights in the spring of 2021, then transitioned to an prolonged mission on which it is really serving as a scout for Perseverance.
Ingenuity has now traveled a whole of 24,867 feet (7,479 m) and stayed airborne for practically 62 minutes for the duration of its 37 Crimson Earth flights, according to the mission’s flight log (opens in new tab). People figures must continue to increase for a while, for the chopper continues to be in fantastic health and fitness, crew users have explained.
Ingenuity’s results is paving the way for long term rotorcraft missions to the Crimson Planet. JPL is establishing principles for much larger, more bold Mars helicopters that would assemble science information, for example. And NASA plans to launch two Ingenuity-like craft to the Purple Planet afterwards in the 2020s to support provide Perseverance’s samples household to Earth.
The baseline plan for the Mars sample-return marketing campaign phone calls for Perseverance to supply its samples to a rocket-equipped lander. That rocket will start the samples to Mars orbit, where a European spacecraft will snag them and haul them to Earth, most likely as early as 2033.
The helicopters will fly on the lander as a backup: If Perseverance is just not ready to deliver the samples itself, the choppers will ferry them to the lander from depots on Jezero’s ground. (Perseverance is having two samples from every of its goal rocks it will store a single established of samples on its overall body and cache the other established in depots.)
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018 illustrated by Karl Tate), a e-book about the look for for alien everyday living. Adhere to him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab).