Thinking at NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter and wonder if there’s something it can’t do. Apparently, not.
The bold helicopter completed its third flight on April 25 and is closer to its main goal than ever. Ingenuity made history first time on April 19 when it lifted off Mars and raised 3.05 meters above the planet’s ground. What’s up next in store for Ingenuity?
Here is what you need to know.
Third Time is Not Just Luck: Ingenuity Continues to Make History
After its sideways flight on April 21, Ingenuity enrolled in another challenge, this time the most daring excursion to date.
The Mars helicopter took off at 1:31 AM ET (12:33 PM local Mars time). It lifted at the same altitude as previously, reaching an incredible speed: 8 kilometres (5 miles)/hour or 2 meters (6.5 feet)/s. To recall, the last flight was only 0.5 meters/s.
You can watch the breathtaking video below:
Ingenuity succeeded in flying about 80 seconds, 50 meters (164 feet) north, which is approximately half a football field’s length. How cool is this?
“With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars mission,” stated David Lavery, the project’s program executive.
Another Two Flight Sessions Await
The Mars helicopter not only has demonstrated that aerial exploration is possible on other planets. It also supports the future mission of collecting flight data.
Ingenuity’s mission is not over yet. The other 2 flights are awaiting. They’ll take place in the following two weeks. NASA plans to push Ingenuity as fast and far as possible, even if there’s a chance it’ll crash.
The last flight could take the helicopter laterally over 300 meters (980 feet) of Mars’ surface. But, we might even see Ingenuity go further than that, over 600 meters (2,000 feet).
One thing is sure, the helicopter’s lifetime will be mainly determined by how well it lands. Stay tuned to be the first to find about the third flight!