NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is now exploring a brand new airfield on the Pink Planet.
Ingenuity made its fifth Martian flight at present (Could 7), lifting off from the ground of Jezero Crater at 3:26 p.m. EDT (1926 GMT). The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper climbed to an altitude of 16.5 toes (5 meters) and cruised south for 423 toes (129 m), following the identical path it took final week on flight quantity 4, NASA officers stated.
However not like that April 30 jaunt and the three others that preceded it, at present’s journey was one-way. After reaching its vacation spot, Ingenuity climbed to 33 toes (10 m) — twice as excessive within the Martian sky because it had ever gotten — snapped some images after which landed in a brand new place, wrapping up a 108-second flight and embarking on a brand new journey of exploration.
“We bid adieu to our first Martian dwelling, Wright Brothers Discipline, with grateful thanks for the assist it offered to the historic first flights of a planetary rotorcraft,” Bob Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, stated in a press release at present.
“Irrespective of the place we go from right here, we’ll all the time carry with us a reminder of how a lot these two bicycle builders from Dayton meant to us throughout our pursuit of the primary flight on one other world,” Balaram stated.
Excelsior! The #MarsHelicopter accomplished its 1st one-way journey and fifth flight on Mars. It touched down at its new location, kicking off a brand new demo section the place we take a look at this new tech and see the way it can help future missions on Mars and different worlds. https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/YwxIjupbQICould 8, 2021
Ingenuity landed with NASA’s Perseverance rover contained in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero on Feb. 18. The solar-powered rotorcraft deployed from the rover’s stomach on April 3, starting a flight marketing campaign designed to exhibit that aerial exploration is feasible on Mars.
That marketing campaign was supposed to finish after 30 days and a most of 5 flights. However Ingenuity carried out so effectively, and stays so wholesome, that NASA not too long ago prolonged its mission.
“Our helicopter is much more strong than we had hoped,” Josh Ravich, Ingenuity mechanical engineering lead at JPL, wrote in a weblog publish yesterday (Could 6).
“The facility system that we fretted over for years is offering greater than sufficient power to maintain our heaters going at evening and to fly through the day,” Ravich added. “The off-the-shelf parts for our steerage and navigation techniques are additionally doing nice, as is our rotor system. You identify it, and it’s doing simply wonderful or higher.”
Right now’s flight helps transition the little chopper into a brand new section, throughout which Ingenuity will showcase the flexibility of rotorcraft to function scouts for Mars rovers. The brand new airfield lies alongside Perseverance’s deliberate traverse, so the helicopter’s in-flight images might assist the rover crew select probably the most environment friendly route and, maybe, determine attention-grabbing rock targets to research.
Preserving the 2 robots in comparatively shut proximity can be a logistical necessity. Ingenuity, whose physique is concerning the measurement of a tissue field, can not discuss on to its handlers on Earth; communications to and from the chopper should undergo Perseverance.
Along with serving as a relay station, the rover has been documenting Ingenuity’s historic flights, capturing video and, on flight quantity 4, audio of the rotorcraft in motion. However Perseverance will quickly start focusing in earnest by itself science mission, which includes looking for indicators of historical Mars life and accumulating and caching dozens of samples for future return to Earth.
“The plan ahead is to fly Ingenuity in a fashion that doesn’t cut back the tempo of Perseverance science operations,” Balaram stated in at present’s postflight assertion.
“We could get a pair extra flights in over the following few weeks, after which the company will consider how we’re doing,” he added. “We now have already been capable of collect all of the flight efficiency knowledge that we initially got here right here to gather. Now, this new operations demo offers us a possibility to additional broaden our information of flying machines on different planets.”
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the seek for alien life. Observe him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Fb.