Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Completes Ninth and Toughest Flight

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The Ingenuity helicopter is purpose-built to make historical past, so it ought to come as no shock that the plucky little drone has simply accomplished its ninth flight on Mars, and this was probably the most spectacular one but. Ingenuity flew larger, sooner, and farther than it has earlier than, and it’s nonetheless raring to go for one more journey. 

The Ingenuity crew released some details of what they supposed for the ninth flight again on July 2. The flight happened on July fifth. Whereas we don’t have full particulars on the helicopter’s actions, we all know the JPL sees the flight as one more smashing success. We even have one more snapshot of the drone’s shadow on the floor. Ingenuity solely has downward-facing cameras as a result of it was supposed as a expertise demo mission solely. 

In line with a tweet posted yesterday after the operation ended, Ingenuity spent 166.four seconds within the air, and it reached a pace of 5 m/s. That may not sound very quick for a helicopter, however it is a helicopter on one other planet. Rovers like Perseverance and its older sibling Curiosity can solely crawl alongside a number of meters at a time as a result of operators right here on Earth want to ensure it doesn’t roll over one thing harmful. Ingenuity has the ability to get the place it’s going quick. 

NASA introduced a number of weeks again that it was extending Ingenuity’s expertise demonstration mission, which was solely alleged to final a month. The brand new “operations demonstration” section has seen the helicopter start making one-way flights, protecting extra distance, and shifting faster. Throughout a earlier flight, a pc glitch brought on some wobbling and a short lived lack of location monitoring, however the robotic’s beneficiant error margins helped it set down safely. Throughout this flight, Ingenuity handed over a sandy space referred to as Séítah. This was a problem for the robotic as its navigation algorithms had been designed for flat rocky terrain, not rolling dunes. It didn’t undergo any points because it did beforehand. 

As profitable as Ingenuity is, it in all probability gained’t stay for much longer on the pink planet. NASA designed the helicopter to be gentle and environment friendly with the assistance of off-the-shelf elements, reminiscent of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 smartphone processor. Nonetheless, these components will not be hardened in opposition to the cruel circumstances on Mars. It’s unlikely the tiny solar-powered helicopter will survive the upcoming Martian winter. Nonetheless, it’s already made historical past, and its descendants will little doubt do much more. 

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