See NASA’s tenacious Ingenuity helicopter soar over Mars

The little Martian helicopter-that-could has achieved it once more.

Ingenuity, a small 4-pound robotic scout that hitched a journey to the Crimson Planet final yr, has lately despatched again video documentation of its farthest and quickest flight but. On April 8, it traveled 2,310 ft — a bit lower than half a mile — at 12 mph.

The helicopter’s black-and-white navigation digital camera caught the tour, exhibiting a uncommon, fowl’s eye view of the Martian terrain. Ingenuity’s digital camera is downward-facing, providing a “breathtaking sense of what it could really feel like gliding 33 ft above the floor of Mars,” mentioned NASA Ingenuity staff chief Teddy Tzanetos in a press release.

Within the video, Ingenuity soars by Mars’ skinny ambiance over rippling sand, then halfway by the journey, the panorama adjustments to disparate rocky fields. The helicopter finally flies over a flat space, the place it drops down for a clean touchdown.

The entire record-breaking feat lasted a bit of over 2.5 minutes, however that is for much longer than its first flight of 39 seconds within the spring of 2021. NASA elevated the brand new video’s pace fivefold, decreasing its runtime to lower than 35 seconds.

Ingenuity’s autonomous flights 300 million miles from Earth are programmed by engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. These plans are despatched as instructions to the car-size Perseverance Mars rover, which then relays them to the helicopter. Whereas Ingenuity flies, sensors onboard the plane react to the panorama to assist information it.

The helicopter has wildly outperformed NASA’s expectations. Engineers wished to show they may fly a drone on Mars. Now, Ingenuity has flown not less than 28 instances whereas exploring the desertlike planet.

Mission management lately misplaced contact with Ingenuity whereas the helicopter went right into a power-conserving mode. Communication was restored after its photo voltaic panels recharged the plane’s six lithium-ion batteries.