After Surviving a Wild Ride on Mars, NASA Ingenuity Takes to the Martian Sky

After going through a rough journey on May 22nd, NASA's Ingenuity helicopter aced its seventh flight on the Red Planet. The rotorcraft moved south, flying 348 feet (106 meters) from its previous location. This marked the second time the rotorcraft landed at a new base that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight.
NASA Ingenuity helicopter aces its 7th flight on Mars 1 photo
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU
On April 19th, Ingenuity made history by demonstrating that controlled flight in the thin atmosphere of Mars is possible. For its first five flights, which saw the rotorcraft fly higher and longer each time, the rotorcraft conducted a technological demonstration. Starting with its sixth flight, Ingenuity entered an operations demonstration phase which seeks to examine how aerial scouting could aid future exploration of the Red Planet.

However, during its sixth flight, the rotorcraft encountered an anomaly. The helicopter was assigned with the task of snapping some stereo images of a Martian region to the west when, almost a minute into the flight, it started to wobble mid-air due to an image processing issue.

The anomaly lasted until Ingenuity was able to power through the final part of its journey. Luckily, the rotorcraft landed safely and was healthy enough to perform its next flight, which took place on June 8th. Ingenuity flew 348 feet (106 meters) south from its previous location and stayed in the air for about a minute before landing in a new spot.

This was the helicopter's second landing at a new base it hadn't previously surveyed from the air. Instead, the team behind Ingenuity had to simply rely on data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera. That's how scientists figured out if the new site was quite flat and had few obstructions.

As of June 1st, NASA's Perseverance rover has already started a new science campaign on Mars, heading south in the Jazero Crater. The two robots are currently in close proximity, and you can track their progress through an interactive map provided by the agency. As it links to the rover to send data back to Earth, the little rotorcraft will stay close to Perseverance.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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