NASA Ingenuity Helicopter Spins Its Blades Again, Gets Closer to the Ancient River Delta

The small rotorcraft doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has recently completed Flight 22, and it’s already gearing up for the next one, which will take it closer to the ancient river delta – a region that might hold crucial clues about the Red Planet’s wet past.
NASA Ingenuity helicopter aces Flight 22 on Mars 6 photos
NASA Ingenuity helicopter aces Flight 22 on MarsNASA Ingenuity helicopter aces Flight 22 on MarsNASA Ingenuity helicopter aces Flight 22 on MarsNASA Ingenuity helicopter aces Flight 22 on MarsNASA Ingenuity helicopter aces Flight 22 on Mars
This was not just a routine flight. The helicopter is actually getting ready to explore the ancient river delta of Jezero Crater. In the next months, Ingenuity will help its rover buddy Perseverance (which is also heading toward the delta) investigate and collect data about this region on Mars.

The Jezero river delta campaign won’t be an easy task for the chopper. Unlike the mostly flat surfaces the rotorcraft has been crossing since it first landed on Mars, this time, it will tackle uneven surfaces, cliffs, and areas filled with sand. This will make flight difficult for Ingenuity as it will have to avoid protruding boulders or navigate across hilly terrain. Moreover, it will have to choose the ideal spot for landing.

But that’s not stopping the little helicopter. Recently, Ingenuity has completed Flight 22, the second out of three that will get it across the Séítah region on Mars to the ancient delta river. NASA’s Jet Propulsory Laboratory (JPL) took to Twitter to announce that the rotorcraft spun its blades and lifted off the ground on Sunday, March 20th.

It successfully climbed to a 33-foot (10-meter) altitude and stayed aloft in the thin Martian atmosphere for a total of 101.4 seconds. The team also mentioned that Ingenuity is already getting ready for the next flight, which is expected to take place this week.

Once Ingenuity crosses the Séítah region and arrives at the delta, it will assist Perseverance and work as an aerial scout. From above, it will be able to snap pictures of the landscape and send data to the Perseverance team. That will help the rover identify which path to follow and select which spots need to be explored.


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