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NASA Ingenuity Helicopter Scores Another Flight on Mars, Crosses Challenging Terrain

On Tuesday, August 17th, NASA's Ingenuity rotorcraft has successfully completed another flight on the Red Planet. For those of you who lost count, this was the 12th journey on Mars for the little helicopter. This time, Ingenuity had to cross the challenging terrain found in a region called South Séítah.
NASA Ingenuity helicopter aces its 12th flight on Mars 8 photos
NASA Ingenuity helicopter snaps image of South Séítah on August 16thNASA Ingenuity helicopter snaps image of South Séítah on August 16thNASA Ingenuity helicopter snaps image of South Séítah on August 16thViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called SéítahViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called SéítahViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called SéítahViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called Séítah
Flying over the complex rocky terrain and dunes in South Séítah poses a significant risk for the helicopter. Ingenuity's navigation system, which was designed to support a short technology demonstration on Mars, relies on the assumption that the rotorcraft is flying over virtually flat terrain.

Deviations from this assumption can cause errors which can, in turn, lead to anomalies in the helicopter's flight profile. During its 6th flight, Ingenuity did come across such an anomaly that made it tilt back and forth in an oscillating pattern. Not only that, but the deviations can also cause long-term errors in the helicopter's position awareness.

However, Ingenuity powered through the latest flight and successfully climbed 32.8 ft (10 m) to scout the rugged terrain. The rotorcraft hovered for a total of 169 seconds and made a 1,476 ft (450 m) roundtrip.
During its journey, it didn't miss the chance to capture 10 color images that will help the Perseverance rover's team decide which of the boulders, rocky outcrops, and other geologic features in South Séítah are worth further investigation by the rover.

Even though the flight proved to be risky, "knowing that we have the opportunity to help the Perseverance team with science planning by providing unique aerial footage is all the motivation needed," explained NASA.

This trip was somehow similar to Flight 10 when Ingenuity scouted a surface feature known as "Raised Ridges" for the Perseverance team. But, unlike its 10th journey, the timing of Flight 12 was critical.

Currently, the rover is not too far from Ingenuity as it is moving faster northwest across the southern ridge of Séítah thanks to its newly enabled AutoNav capability. According to NASA JPL, if everything goes well, the rover is expected to meet up with the helicopter in the upcoming days.



 
 
 
 
 

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