Index – science – The Martian helicopter has flown again after surviving an emergency landing
The recent flight of NASA’s innovative robotic helicopter to Mars wasn’t all that special compared to some of its previous flights. The tiny helicopter soared 5 meters above the dusty surface of the red planet in 24 seconds, then landed again in the same spot, he writes. Ars Technica.
On some of its previous flights, Ingenuity has flown for nearly three minutes at a stretch, managing to fly 700 meters across Martian terrain.
Having landed on the surface of Mars more than two years ago as part of the Perseverance mission, the helicopter is arguably one of the greatest NASA exploration achievements of all time.
For ingenuity, mission success was the completion of five relatively short flights. However, since its first test flight in April 2021, the helicopter has exceeded all expectations: it has flown over the surface of Mars more than 50 times and has survived the long and dark winter.
Although brief, Ingenuity’s latest flight on August 3 was a helicopter mission. In fact, on its 53rd flight at the end of July, the planned 136-second flight stopped automatically after only 76 seconds, and made an emergency landing.
After the flight, helicopter operators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory determined that the images from Ingenuity’s navigation camera did not match data from the vehicle’s inertial measurement unit. In short, the on-board computer expected one thing, but saw another.
Since the first flight, we have integrated a program called LAND_NOW, designed to bring the helicopter to the surface as soon as possible in the event of any of a few dozen undesirable scenarios. We encountered one of these during Flight 53 and the helicopter worked as planned and landed promptly
– said Teddy Zanetos, Creative Group Director.
The purpose of last Thursday’s helicopter flight was to collect additional data on the conditions that caused the previous flight to end prematurely.
After the last flight, Zanettos said the helicopter team is confident Creativity can return to perform more challenging missions soon.
There was another advantage of the short takeoff and landing mission. At a height of 5 meters above the surface, the helicopter took a picture of the Martian terrain, which also shows Perseverance.