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Because it nears its two-year anniversary on the planet, NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has accomplished its fiftieth flight on Mars. The fiftieth flight was accomplished on April 13, 2023, when Ingenuity traveled over 1,057 ft (322 meters) in 145.7 seconds.
On its fiftieth flight, Ingenuity achieved a brand new altitude file of 59 ft (18 meters) earlier than settling close to the Belva Crater. NASA plans to have the helicopter carry out one other repositioning flight earlier than it begins exploring the “Fall River Cross” area of the Jezero Crater.
Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of Ingenuity’s first flight on Mars, which occurred on April 19, 2021. The helicopter was initially designed as a expertise demonstration that might fly not more than 5 occasions. Now, its 23 Earth months and 45 flights past its anticipated lifetime, and has reworked into an operations demonstration.
“After we first flew, we thought we’d be extremely fortunate to eke out 5 flights,” Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity workforce lead at JPL, stated. “We now have exceeded our anticipated cumulative flight time since our expertise demonstration wrapped by 1,250% and anticipated distance flown by 2,214%.”
NASA has been so inspired by Ingenuity’s success that it determined to swap out its Pattern Fetch Rovers for 2 drones, just like the Ingenuity helicopter, to function backups to the Perseverance Rover within the Mars Pattern Return Marketing campaign.
These helicopters are anticipated to make it to the floor of Mars in 2030, and can step in if Perseverance is unable to journey to the lander. Every helicopter might be geared up with mobility wheels on its touchdown legs and one robotic arm. NASA plans for them to fly to the rover if it will get caught, use their robotic arms to retrieve a pattern, after which fly the pattern again to the lander.
Every of Ingenuity’s flights gives useful flight knowledge that might be utilized by engineers engaged on the designs for future Mars helicopters. The helicopter has been tackling more and more rougher terrain this yr because it left the Jazero Crater’s ground in January.
“We’re not in Martian Kansas anymore,” Josh Anderson, Ingenuity operations lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “We’re flying over the dried-up remnants of an historic river that’s stuffed with sand dunes, boulders, and rocks, and surrounded by hills that would have us for lunch. And whereas we not too long ago upgraded the navigation software program onboard to assist decide secure airfields, each flight continues to be a white-knuckler.”