Now, for its sixth flight, Ingenuity was assigned with the task of snapping some stereo images of a region to the west. The rotorcraft flew up to 33 ft (10 meters), and for its first 492 ft (150 meters) to the southwest, everything worked properly. It was moving at a ground speed of 9 mph (14 kph) when, almost a minute into the flight, it started to wobble mid-air due to an image processing issue.
This anomaly lasted until Ingenuity was able to power through the final part of its 705 ft (215 meters) journey to land safely on the ground within approximately 16 ft (5 meters) of the initially planned landing spot.
According to NASA, the helicopter's design and various components, including the rotor system, actuators, and power system, were key elements that allowed it to maintain flight and not crash. The researchers' team also stopped using navigation camera images during this anomaly to ensure stable motion estimates. Luckily, Ingenuity is now safe and ready for its next flight.
"While we did not intentionally plan such a stressful flight, NASA now has flight data probing the outer reaches of the helicopter's performance envelope. That data will be carefully analyzed in the time ahead, expanding our reservoir of knowledge about flying helicopters on Mars.", notes Havard Grip, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Just keep flying ????#MarsHelicopter completed its 6th flight. Despite unexpected motion from an image processing issue, Ingenuity muscled through the final ~65 meters of its 215-meter journey, landed safely & is ready to fly again. The chief pilot explains https://t.co/533hn7qixk pic.twitter.com/IHkkjXaHDd— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) May 27, 2021