It’s been three weeks since Ingenuity, NASA’s Mars helicopter, successfully completed its first flight. Obviously, the space agency approached this first launch with suspicion, so Ingenuity flew only about thirty seconds at a height of 3 meters.
After that, Ingenuity started twice and encountered a first error on the fourth start. Today NASA teams seem to have figured out where this problem came from, which has kept Ingenuity stuck to the ground since the helicopter went on a mission.
Ingenuity sets a new record
A few days ago, Ingenuity managed to travel 133 meters south and then return to its base (that is, 266 meters), all at a height of 5 meters and in 117 seconds. A record for the Mars mini helicopter. During this first real exploration, Ingenuity optimized the 117 seconds of flight by taking several pictures of a possible landing zone, but not only. In total, the helicopter managed to take around sixty photos, some of them in series, to be converted into 3D rendering.
The good results of the Ingenuity missions let NASA see further. Ingenuity was originally scheduled to serve for a month on Mars (a day on Mars is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35 seconds), but this period could be extended. As the launches progress in, NASA believes that this type of drone / helicopter is the best way to explore Mars and other planets in the future.
In the short term, the space agency plans to launch Ingenuity twice, still in the testing phase, before this Mars helicopter can set out for further exploration and possibly collect critical Mars samples for NASA research.
Ingenuity is scheduled to depart on its fifth flight today, Friday, May 7th, 2021. If all goes well, the helicopter will travel 129 meters in one direction before stopping and then attempt an altitude of 10 meters before landing in a new area that was detected during the previous flight.