NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter simply flew for the thirty first time on Mars, acing a brief hop that took it nearer to an historical Red Planet river delta.
During the Mars sortie, which occurred on Tuesday (Sept. 6), the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) Ingenuity flew for practically 56 seconds and coated about 318 toes (97 meters) of horizontal distance, in line with the mission team’s flight log (opens in new tab).
The flight took Ingenuity towards the remnants of a long-dry river delta that the little chopper’s robotic associate, NASA’s Perseverance rover, has been exploring for the previous 5 months or so.
Related: Mars helicopter Ingenuity: First aircraft to fly on Red Planet
In February 2021, Ingenuity and Perseverance landed collectively contained in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, which harbored that river delta and an enormous lake billions of years in the past.
Perseverance is looking for indicators of historical Mars life and gathering rock samples for future return to Earth. Ingenuity is serving as a scout, serving to the Perseverance crew choose the very best driving routes and determine scientifically promising rock targets.
That is not the function initially assigned to Ingenuity; it is a know-how demonstrator that was designed for a five-flight mission to indicate that rotorcraft flight is feasible within the Martian atmosphere, which is simply 1% as thick as that of Earth at sea stage.
Ingenuity aced that prime mission and shortly was granted an extension to carry out its present, extra targeted reconnaissance work.
Tuesday’s flight was the primary for Ingenuity since a 33-second hop on Aug. 20 that coated simply 6.5 toes (2 m) of Martian floor. The Aug. 20 sortie was designed primarily to shake dust off Ingenuity’s solar panels and ensure the little robotic was nonetheless in flying form after two months of relative inactivity.
Ingenuity had been grounded since June 11, ready out chilly and dusty winter climate on Jezero’s flooring.
Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a ebook concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).