Today we talk about the flight number 9 of Ingenuity, NASA’s experimental Martian helicopter, which has now accomplished and completed, a stay at high speed on rough terrain on the Red Planet, allowing mission engineers to test a range of capabilities that could pave the way for more Martian helicopters.
Ingenuity’s flight number 9 to Mars was completed on Monday, July 5, when it remained aloft for 166.4 seconds and flew at a speed of 5 meters per second, according to a tweet from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. who oversees the project.
#MarsHelicopter pushes its Red Planet limits. 🚁
The rotorcraft completed its 9th and most challenging flight yet, flying for 166.4 seconds at a speed of 5 m / s. Take a look at this shot of Ingenuity’s shadow captured with its navigation camera. https://t.co/TNCdXWcKWE pic.twitter.com/zUIbrr7Qw9
– NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) July 5, 2021
The helicopter chief pilot, Håvard Grip, and its chief engineer, Bob Balaram, had previously described their intentions for Ingenuity’s 9th flight in a post on the NASA blog.
In their post, they indicated that Ingenuity’s 9th flight would break its current ground speed, distance and flight time records.
While we have yet to get full details on this latest flight, Grip and Balaram said the aircraft would be instructed to fly at over 2,050 feet (625 meters) at 16 feet (5 meters) per second and that the entire flight would be lasted nearly three minutes.
Prior to the flight, NASA announced that the small plane would attempt new feats in this sortie, including a shortcut over rocky terrain unsafe for the helicopter’s much larger companion, the Perseverance rover, mission personnel wrote in a statement dated 2 July.
Small recap and other details on Ingenuity flight number 9
The Ingenuity helicopter is a technology demonstration project that traveled to Mars hidden in the belly of the rover Perseverance and arrived on the Red Planet last February 18th.
The rover has deployed the small 4-pound helicopter. (1.8 kilograms) in early April for what was to be a five-flight mission in a month, with the helicopter making history on April 19 when it made its first flight to Mars.
But as Ingenuity accelerated flight after flight, NASA extended the small helicopter’s mission, setting the experimental plane to keep up with Perseverance as the rover begins its work on geology and astrobiology, the heart of the mission.
As capable as Perseverance is, however, the rover faces limits in terms of where it can safely explore, and this is what inspired Ingenuity flight number 9, which arrives two weeks after the last helicopter sortie.
“The Perseverance rover is currently on the eastern edge of a scientifically interesting region called ‘Séítah’, characterized by sandy ripples which could be very challenging terrain for wheeled vehicles such as the rover”
wrote the helicopter team in the statement outlining plans for the ninth flight.
“Rather than keep jumping in front of the rover, however, we will now try to do something that only an air vehicle on Mars could do: take a shortcut through part of the Séítah region and land on a plain to the south.
Along the way, we plan to take color aerial images of the rocks and ripples we cross“.
NASA has not yet released the complete statistics and image collection of the flight, with Ingenuity data having to pass first to Perseverance, then to one of the satellites orbiting Mars, then to Earth.
Grip and Balaram said in their blog that Ingenuity flight number 9 it was the most nerve-wracking since the helicopter’s maiden voyage on the Red Planet. Although they have yet to publish all flight data, one thing is certain: the flight was a success and we have yet to reach the limits of this record-breaking aircraft.
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