A helicopter the size of a small drone landed on Mars on February 18th with persistence, but it has a separate program. It is not equipped with scientific devices, its only task is to test the possibility of using similar flying devices in the future when examining the surface of extraterrestrial objects. The Creativity Mission team initially expected the tests to only last 30 days, but a week ago, and after three successful years, they decided to add another 30 days and didn’t rule out another possible continuation.
Ingenuity’s fifth flight took place exactly as planned as previously reported by JPL. The helicopter took off at 21:26 DST for Central Europe and the data confirming the success of the next test of the machine was delivered to the ground center approximately four hours later.
The machine flew from the same place it took off and returned to it on previous tests, but this time it landed elsewhere. Initially, he set off to a height of five meters, as in the previous three tests, with the exception of the first, when he climbed to three meters. After that, the helicopter continued on the same runway on its fourth flight, Friday, for a distance of 129 meters. But instead of turning and back, it rose to ten meters, took high-resolution color photos of its new area, and then landed there. The whole flight took 108 seconds.
“The fifth flight of a helicopter to Mars is another big success for NASA,” said Bob Pearce, NASA’s Leading Aviation Research Officer. “The continued success of innovation proves that it is important to combine the strengths of different skills from across the agency to create a future like flying the plane to another planet!” he added.
Creative helicopter on Mars
Photo: Uncredited, ČTK / AP
According to JPL, the fifth flight of Dexterity means the helicopter transition to a new stage of operation view. This phase will focus on exploring the capabilities such a machine operating on Mars can provide. These include surveys, aerial surveillance of areas inaccessible to the rover, and detailed terrain imaging. These processes and the lessons learned from them could greatly inform future aerial reconnaissance of Mars and other extraterrestrial bodies.
An Ingenuity helicopter flew to Mars on Friday 19, 22, 25 and 30 April prior to Friday’s test. All of these trips were successful, although the first and fourth stages delayed the software problem. The helicopter gradually increased the speed and distance of the flight.
On Friday, NASA released for the first time an audio recording of the Ingenuity flight, captured by Perseverance during a fourth test a week ago, along with a video recording. The sound of the flying machine was captured by the microphone of the SuperCam laser. It was not certain whether the sound would be recorded, not least because of the eighty-meter distance. During the flight, when the helicopter’s rotors were moving at 2,537 revolutions per minute, the sound was muffled by the dispersed atmosphere of Mars as well as a gust of wind at the start of the flight. That’s why experts on the ground modified the recording to make it more audible.
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