NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has made its EIGHTH successful flight on the Red Planet
- NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter completed its eighth successful flight on Mars
- The 4-pound helicopter flew 525 feet (160meters) for 77.4 seconds.
- It landed roughly 440 feet (133.5m) away from Perseverance
- It captures its own shadow, 14 days after its seventh flight
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter completed its eighth successful flight on Mars on Monday, traveling more than 500 feet.
The 4-pound helicopter, which arrived on Mars in February in conjunction with the Perseverance rover, flew 525 feet (160meters) for 77.4 seconds.
It landed roughly 440 feet (133.5m) away from Perseverance and managed to take another image of its own shadow, 14 days after its seventh flight.
‘Another successful flight for Ingenuity!’ NASA JPL tweeted.
The 4-pound helicopter, which arrived on Mars in February in conjunction with the Perseverance rover, flew 525 feet (160meters) for 77.4 seconds
INGENUITY: FIRST EIGHT FLIGHTS ON MARS
Flight one: April 19, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 9.8ft, stationary hover and a landing
Flight two: April 22, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 16ft, hover, then shift westward for 14ft before returning and landing
Flight three: April 25, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 16ft, hover, shift northwards for 328ft at an airspeed of 2 m/s before returning to land
Flight four: April 30, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 16ft, hover, shift southwards 873ft at 3.5m/s before returning to land
Flight five: May 7, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 33ft, hover, shift southwards 423ft at 3.5 m/s before landing at that new location
Flight six: May 22, 2021 with a vertical takeoff of 33ft, hover, shift southwest 492ft at 9mph, travel 49ft south, travel 164ft before returning to land
Flight seven: June 8, 2021 with a vertical takeoff of 33ft, hover, shift 348ft at 9mph, land at Airfield D
Flight eight: June 21, 2021 with a vertical takeoff, hover, shift southwest 520ft, land at Airfield E 438ft away from Perseverance
Both Ingenuity’s seventh and eighth flights went off without a hitch, but its sixth flight took some ‘unexpected motions,’ the US space agency said previously.
The unwanted turns were due to an ‘image processing issue,’ but NASA said at the time the helicopter ‘landed safely and is ready to fly again.’
The helicopter first deployed from Perseverance on April 3, starting a 30-day clock to make its first powered flight.
Ingenuity, which is just 18-inches tall, made its first flight on April 19, 2021, making history as the first powered controlled flight on another planet.
Since then it has completed eight successful flights, the first five as part of a ‘technical demonstration’ to prove something could fly on Mars.
The subsequent flights are part of an extended mission support role, helping Perseverance.
NASA has not yet said when Ingenuity will make its ninth flight, but given its history, it can be expected to happen sometime within the next few weeks.
While airborne, Ingenuity keeps track of its motion using an onboard inertial measurement unit (IMU) – that tracks acceleration and rotation rates.
By integrating this information over time, it is possible to estimate where it is, how fast it is moving, and how it is oriented in space.
The onboard control system reacts to the estimated motions by adjusting control inputs rapidly – at a rate of 500 times per second.
The $2.7 billion Perseverance is currently heading south from its landing spot on the Jezero Crater, where it landed 125 sols (Martian days) ago, on February 18.
So far, it has driven 0.32 miles within the crater, NASA said, where it is performing a number of tasks, including searching for evidence of ancient life.
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on Earth.
Named Perseverance, the main car-sized rover is explore an ancient river delta within the Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600ft deep lake.
It is believed that the region hosted microbial life some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago and the rover will examine soil samples to hunt for evidence of the life.
Nasa’s Mars 2020 rover (artist’s impression) is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet
The $2.5 billion (£1.95 billion) Mars 2020 spaceship launched on July 30 with the rover and helicopter inside – and landed successfully on February 18, 2021.
Perseverance landed inside the crater and will collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for further analysis.
A second mission will fly to the planet and return the samples, perhaps by the later 2020s in partnership with the European Space Agency.
This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA’s ‘sky-crane’ system
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