NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has taken its second flight on Mars

0
79

New Scientist Default Image

The Perseverance rover took this picture of Ingenuity on its second flight

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has taken to the Martian skies for the second time. On 22 April, the small drone made its second flight a few days after its first, which took place on 19 April.

Ingenuity is the first craft ever to attempt powered flight on another world. In the first flight, it rose 3 metres into the air, hovered for about 30 seconds, and rotated before landing again. The Perseverance rover observed the entire thing from a safe distance.

Advertisement


The second flight was slightly more ambitious, lasting about 52 seconds. After reaching an altitude of about 5 metres, Ingenuity flew 2 metres to the side, hovered briefly and swivelled around to point its camera across the landscape before returning to the centre of the airfield in Mars’s Jezero Crater and landing.

There are three more increasingly complex flights planned in the coming weeks. For the third flight, the team plans to fly Ingenuity faster and further than before, going up to 50 metres away from its take-off site before it returns to land. The final two flights will take Ingenuity hundreds of metres away from the airfield.

“We will be pushing the envelope and really stretching and understanding how well we can fly,” said MiMi Aung at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California in a press conference after the first flight.

For the last flight, the team will attempt to push Ingenuity to its limits in terms of speed, distance and manoeuvrability, which may end in a crash landing, she said. “Ultimately, we expect the helicopter will meet its limit,” she said.

The mission has a window of about one month to perform all of its tests before the Perseverance rover drives away to continue with its main science objectives.

Sign up to our free Launchpad newsletter for a voyage across the galaxy and beyond, every Friday

More on these topics:

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here