Mars helicopter keeps on flying because it approaches second anniversary

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has been on Mars almost two years and the high-tech contraption remains to be in adequate shape to get airborne.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the NASA unit overseeing the newest Mars mission that also includes the Perseverance rover, tweeted a GIF (below) showing the view from Ingenuity because it buzzed above the martian surface on Wednesday, January 11.

#MarsHelicopter keeps exploring the Martian skies!
Ingenuity recently accomplished Flight 39. The rotorcraft stayed aloft for about 79 seconds, traveling 460 feet (140.25 meters) at an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) and returning to its original take-off location.

— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) January 12, 2023

During Ingenuity’s thirty ninth flight, the aircraft stayed within the air for around 79 seconds. It flew a distance of 460 feet (140.25 meters) and reached an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) before returning to its launch location.

Ingenuity didn’t break any records during its latest flight, nor did it perform any particular tasks, but it surely confirmed to JPL operators that the plucky machine remains to be in excellent working order and all set for further missions to help the Perseverance rover.

Ingenuity and Perseverance arrived on the red planet in spectacular fashion in February 2021, and the helicopter took its first historic hover two months later in April, becoming the primary aircraft to attain powered, controlled flight on a planet aside from Earth.

Its longest time within the air is 169.5 seconds, achieved on flight 12 in August 2021, while the longest distance covered to this point is a powerful 2,325 feet (708.9 meters), achieved in April 2022. It’s also reached speeds as fast as 12.3 mph (19.8 kph) and and flown as high as 46 feet (14 meters) during its quite a few trips.

The aircraft was originally sent to Mars to easily test the viability of such a tool in an environment much thinner than Earth’s, meaning it faced a greater challenge to get airborne as lift is harder to attain there. But after nailing the primary flight, and several other thereafter, the Ingenuity team began using the helicopter’s down-facing camera to help the ground-based Perseverance rover.

Ingenuity did this by capturing images of the terrain, enabling the rover team to plan safer and more efficient routes for its vehicle because it set about exploring areas of scientific interest.

NASA is now considering constructing a more advanced version of Ingenuity that might be used as a part of the Mars Sample Return mission that may endeavor to return martian dust and rock samples to Earth within the early 2030s.

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