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NASA Mars helicopter makes a one-way flight to a new mission

This time, NASA’s Mars robot helicopter Ingenuity did not return.

It was intended.

On Friday, Ingenuity, the first machine to fly in another world like an airplane or helicopter last month, took off for the fifth time. It succeeded in a one-way trip to another flat location on Mars, more than the length of a soccer field. The place where it landed will begin a new phase of the mission, at least acting as an operational base next month and acting as a scout for the larger robot companion, the Parsavia Lans Rover.

According to NASA’s pre-flight, Ingenuity followed the course of the previous flight, traveling 423 feet south at an altitude of 16 feet. But instead of turning, it stopped and climbed high to 33 feet to take a picture of the area. After that, it landed 110 seconds after taking off.

Like the previous four flights, Ingenuity flew autonomously without the help or contact of people on Earth, executing the flight plan sent hours ago. Engineers had to wait more than three hours after Ingenuity had already landed, and news of success arrived. It was broadcast from Ingenuity to Perseverance, an overhead orbiter, and to Earth.

The 1.6-foot-high, 4-pound ingenuity is a $ 85 million add-on project to a $ 2.7 billion perseverance mission looking for signs of past life on Mars. The helicopter moved to Mars, hiding under the belly of a rover that landed on Mars in February.

NASA’s original plans demonstrated that after the helicopter fell to the ground in early April, the Ingenuity team would fly up to five times a month, enabling Mars-controlled powered flights. .. The atmosphere on the surface of Mars is only 1%. It is as dense as the earth. Ingenuity would have been left behind and patience would have set out to pursue a scientific quest.

But the NASA mission manager changed his mind.

The ingenuity flew almost perfectly. The first flight was short up and down. Subsequent flights achieved all of the original goals and ventured further.

In a blog postJoshua Ravich, Mechanical Engineering Leader at Ingenuity, said that power systems, heaters, navigation systems and rotors are all functioning properly. “Our helicopter is even stronger than we expected,” he writes.

This not only uses ingenuity as evidence of basic technology, but also provides aerial reconnaissance of the surrounding landscape to Perseverance scientists who have decided to have Rover explore the neighborhood for months. The door has been opened.

On his fourth flight, he scouted a new location for the helicopter to land. “The digital elevation map compiled by the Ingenuity team gave us the confidence that the new airfield would be pancake-flat, which is good when we need to land,” Ravich said. Says.

During his fourth flight, Perseverance, parked more than 250 feet away from the helicopter, succeeded in recording the sound of an Ingenuity rotor that cuts through the air on Mars.

“I was fortunate to be able to register a helicopter at such a distance,” said Mike’s science leader David Mimoun in a NASA news release. “This recording will be a gold mine for understanding the atmosphere of Mars.”

After Ingenuity moves to a new location, the Perseverance team’s focus will shift to scientific research that was primarily pending during the test flight.

Taking off when there is time among other activities in Perseverance, ingenuity is expected to only make one or two more flights this month.

But if all goes well, Ingenuity can continue to tag with patience throughout the Martian landscape.

NASA Mars helicopter makes a one-way flight to a new mission

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