Make it a hat trick on the Crimson Planet for NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity.
The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper aced its third-ever Martian flight early this morning (April 25), including to its already spectacular resume.
“Third flight in the history books.” officers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California wrote on Twitter. “Our #MarsHelicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther. The space chopper is demonstrating critical capabilities that could enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future missions to Mars & beyond.”
And right now’s sortie was considerably extra complicated than Ingenuity’s earlier two flights, which befell on Monday (April 19) and Thursday (April 22), respectively. On its historic, 39-second debut hop—the primary powered, managed flight for an plane on a world past Earth—the solar-powered helicopter went straight up and down and reached a most altitude of about 16.5 ft (5 meters).
Ingenuity went about that prime on flight quantity two however stayed up for almost 52 seconds and moved side-to-side a complete of 13 ft (4 m).
“For the third flight, we’re targeting the same altitude, but we are going to open things up a bit, too, increasing our max airspeed from 0.5 meters per second to 2 meters per second (about 4.5 mph) as we head 50 meters (164 feet) north and return to land at Wright Brothers Field,” Ingenuity chief pilot Håvard Grip, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, wrote in a weblog put up Friday (April 23). (The Ingenuity workforce named the chopper’s flight zone after aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright.)
“We’re planning for a total flight time of about 80 seconds and a total distance of 100 meters (330 feet),” he added.
At round 10:15 a.m. EDT (1415 GMT) right now, information started streaming in to mission management at JPL confirming that Ingenuity had executed these instructions efficiently.
Communications to and from Ingenuity are relayed through NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is serving a key help and commentary position for the helicopter. The 2 robots landed collectively inside Mars’ 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, and Ingenuity deployed from the car-sized rover’s stomach on April 3, kicking off the present month-long flight marketing campaign.
That marketing campaign is designed to point out that aerial exploration is feasible on Mars, which has an environment simply 1% as dense as that of Earth at sea stage. Ingenuity’s success might pave the way in which for the in depth use of rotorcraft on future Crimson Planet missions, with Mars helicopters serving as scouts for rovers and likewise gathering information themselves, NASA officers have stated.
Ingenuity will not be doing any science work; it’s a know-how demonstration, in spite of everything. However the helicopter does have a 13-megapixel colour digital camera, which has snapped epic, unprecedented images of Perseverance’s tracks from above.
The Ingenuity workforce hopes to fly two extra occasions earlier than the flight window closes in early Might. And these final two sorties will doubtless be “really adventurous,” Ingenuity venture supervisor MiMi Aung, additionally of JPL, stated throughout a information convention earlier this month, stressing that she and her colleagues wish to push the little plane’s limits.
That shall be it for Ingenuity. There’s no negotiating an extended flight window, as a result of Perseverance wants to start out focusing by itself science mission quickly. That mission has two major duties: trying to find indicators of historic Mars life inside Jezero, which hosted a lake and river delta way back, and gathering samples for future return to Earth.
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