“We’re Going Big”: NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Set To Push To Its Limits For Next Mars Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, operating on the surface of Mars, is aiming for new records for its next flight. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said on Friday the small solar-powered rotorcraft “will take things to a new level” in Flight 9, its next trip, where Ingenuity will travel at high speed over unknown terrain far from the Perseverance Rover. .

Read also | How did the Perseverance rover take a historic selfie on Mars? NASA engineer Vandi Verma explains

The Ingenuity helicopter has so far remained fairly close to the Perseverence rover on the Martian surface, their current location being the eastern edge of a scientifically interesting region called the “Séítah”, characterized by sandy ripples that could be very terrain. difficult for wheeled vehicles like the rover. “The last two Ingenuity flights were designed to follow the rover on this journey,” NASA said in its official update Friday.

However, for its next flight – Flight 9 – Ingenuity will “attempt to do something that only an aerial vehicle on Mars could accomplish,” NASA said. The small robotic helicopter will now attempt to take a shortcut through part of the Séítah region and land in a plain to the south. “Along the way, we plan to take color aerial images of the rocks and ripples as we fly over,” the organization said.

Read also | NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter first makes history with a flight to Mars

Ingenuity will attempt to beat its own records for distance, time at altitude and ground speed, NASA said. To accomplish this feat, the helicopter will attempt to attempt the following:

1. Fly 2,051 feet (625 meters)

2. Reach a speed of 5 meters (16 feet) per second

3. Stay in the air for approximately 167 seconds

4. Throughout it will try to click on the color pictures of the trip

“This peak effort will also challenge Ingenuity’s navigation algorithm in a fundamentally new way,” NASA said, adding that Ingenuity is flying high enough over the ground to ignore problems caused by swaying and altitude control.

Earlier on April 6, NASA’s Perseverance rover captured a historic selfie next to the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on the Red Planet, which turned out to be one of the most complex rover selfies ever taken. While selfies primarily allow engineers to check rover wear, they can also inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts.

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