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Spot on Mars Looks Dull From Orbit, NASA Could Send a Helicopter to Have a Closer Look

Back in February of last year, NASA managed to land the most advanced rover to date on the surface of Mars. Its main mission is, of course, the search for signs of life, but it also has a series of secondary assignments that can have far-reaching implications, including the generation of oxygen and tracking of natural resources.
Undisclosed region of Mars, potential target for NASA helicopter 8 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona
NASA Ingenuity helicopterNASA Ingenuity helicopter captures record-breaking flightNASA Ingenuity helicopter captures record-breaking flightNASA Ingenuity helicopter captures record-breaking flightNASA Ingenuity helicopter captures record-breaking flightNASA Ingenuity helicopter captures record-breaking flightNASA Ingenuity helicopter captures record-breaking flight
The most spectacular side mission however must be that of Ingenuity. That’s a very simple helicopter thingy whose single purpose was to prove that powered, controlled flight on another world is possible.

The thing flew for the first time on April 19, 2021, and has been at it ever since, taking to the Martian sky for a total of 33 times (last time on September 24, 2022), and giving us humans a totally new perspective of the Martian world, and some of the human hardware already in place there.

A different perspective is what scientists need for this patch of Martian soil, pictured in the main photo of this piece as seen from an altitude of 265 km (165 km) by the HiRISE orbital camera. It’s a location scientists don’t share much about, except for the fact it “could also be a potential future exploration site for a Mars Science Helicopter.” That means it’s probably somewhere in the Jezero Crater, the place where Ingenuity is presently active.

Humans would like a closer look at this region because they need to know more about the type of soil they’re staring at, which may be “either be an ancient fan, or perhaps the result of more recent recurring slope lineae.”

It’s unclear at this point how far from this location the helicopter is. As a sort of trivia, you should know that from landing and until now, the thing traveled by air 7,392 meters (24,253 feet), reaching the highest altitude of 12 meters (39 feet) and a top speed of 20 kph (12 mph).
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Editor's note: Gallery shows Ingenuity on Mars.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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