The 17th flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter on December 5, 2021, pushed the total flight time past the 30-minute mark.
The 117-second exit saw the first aircraft in history to operate from the surface of another world closer to its home airfield, “Wright Brothers Field,” where it will await the arrival of the Perseverance Mars rover. agency, currently exploring the âSud SÃ©Ãtahâ region of Jezero de Mars crater.
In addition to accumulating 30 minutes and 48 seconds of flight time, the pioneer helicopter covered the surface a distance of 2.2 miles, flying up to 40 feet and as fast as 10.
The condition of the rotorcraft after the Dec. 5 flight had not been previously confirmed due to an unexpected in-flight data flow cutoff as the helicopter descended to the surface at the end of its flight. Perseverance serves as the helicopter’s base station for communication with controllers on Earth. A handful of radio data packets the rover later received suggested a healthy helicopter on the surface but did not provide enough information for the team to declare a successful flight.
But data transmitted to mission engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California on Friday, December 10, indicates that Flight 17 was a success and that Ingenuity is in excellent condition.
The 30-minute mark far exceeds initial plans for the 4-pound (1.8 kilogram) rotorcraft. Designed as a technology demonstration to perform up to five experimental test flights, Ingenuity flew for the first time on April 19, 2021, with a short up and down jump to prove that powered and controlled flight on Mars was possible. . The following four experimental flights widened the rotorcraft’s flight envelope, making increasingly long flights with more complicated maneuvers, which gave JPL engineers a better understanding of its performance.
With the sixth flight, the helicopter embarked on a new phase of demonstration of operations, studying how aerial spotting and other functions could benefit future exploration of Mars and other worlds. In this new chapter, the helicopter operated from airfields well south of Wright Brothers Field, searching for rock outcrops and other geological features of interest to the Perseverance rover science team.
âFew thought we would make it on the first flight, let alone the five. And nobody thought we would go this far, âsaid Ingenuity team leader Teddy Tzanetos of JPL. âEn route to accumulate over half an hour of altitude, Ingenuity survived eight months of freezing cold and operated from nine unique Martian airfields. The aircraft‘s continued operations are a testament to the robust design, diligence and passion of our small operations team.
Learn more about ingenuity
The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was built by JPL, which is also managing this technology demonstration project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by the Science, Aeronautics and Space Technology mission directions of NASA. NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided meaningful flight performance analysis and technical support during the development of Ingenuity. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm and SolAero also provided design assistance and major components of the vehicle. Lockheed Space designed and manufactured the Mars helicopter delivery system.
At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the director of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter program.
Learn more about Perseverance
A key focus of Perseverance’s mission to Mars is astrobiology, including looking for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the past geology and climate of the planet, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (shattered rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples on the surface and return them to Earth for further analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon-to-Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., Built and manages the operations of the Perseverance rover.
For more information on Ingenuity https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter
To find out more about Perseverance mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/