Number 13 was good luck for NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity, because the tenacious little craft seamlessly accomplished its thirteenth flight on the Red Planet on Saturday (Sept. 4).
Ingenuity, or “Ginny” because it’s nicknamed, landed on Mars Feb. 18 tucked inside NASA’s Perseverance rover. The 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) chopper has flown for much longer and farther than mission group members initially anticipated, now with 13 flights beneath its belt when it was initially slated to make only a few quick technology-demonstrating sorties.
“Happy Flight the 13th!” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages Ingenuity’s mission, tweeted Saturday in regards to the craft’s newest profitable Martian journey.
During Ingenuity’s thirteenth flight, the helicopter, which measures simply 19 inches (48 centimeters) tall, traveled at7.3 mph (3.3 m/s), slower than the ten mph (4.3 m/s) pace it maintained on Flight 12. On Saturday’s flight, Ingenuity captured “pictures pointing southwest of the South Seítah area. This aerial scouting continues to assist in planning @NASAPersevere’s subsequent strikes,” JPL officers mentioned in the same tweet.
Happy Flight the thirteenth!🚁Ingenuity has achieved its thirteenth profitable flight on Mars. It traveled at 7.3 mph (3.3 m/s) taking pictures pointing southwest of the South Seítah area. This aerial scouting continues to assist in planning @NASAPersevere’s subsequent strikes. https://t.co/tboEcnLvx3 pic.twitter.com/QIp8QSVxbqSeptember 5, 2021
During this flight, Ingenuity additionally flew at a decrease altitude than throughout its twelfth flight, which additionally occurred in the identical area. On Saturday, the craft flew simply 26 ft (8 meters) above the Martian floor , according to a flight plan revealed Sept. 3 forward of the occasion. On its twelfth flight, Ingenuity cruised about 33 ft (10 m) above the Martian floor.
Saturday’s sortie marked the second time that Ingenuity explored the South Seítah area, which has a variable terrain that Ingenuity group members have previously described as carrying “substantial risk” while being “geologically intriguing.”
However, regardless of the challenges of the area’s terrain, the flight appears to have gone off with no hitch.
The plan for Flight 13 concerned scoping out South Seítah additional, “to scout an area of outcrops glimpsed in Flight 12 imagery — but we’re taking these new pictures while looking back, pointing in the opposite direction,” Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity Team Lead at JPL, wrote in the flight plan.
On Flight 12, the helicopter explored the area and took pictures of ridgelines and outcrops. On Flight 13, the group deliberate for the craft to as an alternative focus on one particular ridgeline and outcrop, Tzanetos added.
“Another big difference is which way our camera will be pointing. For Flight 13, we’ll be capturing images pointing southwest. And when they’re combined with Flight 12’s northeast perspectives, the overlapping images from a lower altitude should provide valuable insight for Perseverance scientists and rover drive planners,” Tzanetos mentioned.
In additional evaluating this flight to its predecessor, “it again reinforces just how much we’re concentrating our efforts in one small area,” Tzanetos mentioned. “On Flight 12 we covered 1,476 feet (450 meters) of Martian ground in 169.5 seconds and took 10 pictures (again — all pointed northeast). On 13, we’ll cover about 690 feet (210 meters) in around 161 seconds and take 10 pictures (pointing southwest).”
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