NASA’s Mars helicopter has now accomplished a powerful 71 flights on the crimson planet since its first hover there in April 2021.
Whereas many of the flights have taken place with none difficulties, the newest one was reduce quick after Ingenuity’s navigation system discovered it troublesome to deal with the “comparatively featureless terrain,” which consisted of “sand ripples with few or no rocks,” based on a social media publish by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is overseeing the mission.
Ingenuity accomplished Flight 71!
The #MarsHelicopter landed efficiently, however sooner than anticipated. The comparatively featureless terrain it flew over (sand ripples with few or no rocks) proved to be a problem for its navigation system. See the stats: pic.twitter.com/RaCmAgON34
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) January 10, 2024
Throughout Saturday’s flight, Ingenuity had been anticipated to journey a distance of simply over 1,175 ft (358 meters), however within the occasion it solely flew 233 ft (71 meters) — a few third of the deliberate route — earlier than touching down.
This meant that the flight, which did obtain the anticipated altitude of 39.4 ft (12 meters) and pace of 15.7 mph (7 meters per second), solely lasted 35 seconds as an alternative of the anticipated 125 seconds.
Ingenuity’s downward going through digicam makes use of the terrain to assist it make its method to the designated touchdown spot, but it surely seems to have turn into confused by the shortage of landmarks alongside the route. It’s an excellent lesson for the JPL staff, which is able to probably now be engaged find methods to enhance the onboard navigation system in order that it might take care of featureless terrain extra successfully.
The excellent news is that Ingenuity seems to have stayed near its deliberate flight path, and that it landed safely.
It’s not the primary problem that the helicopter has needed to overcome. A software program problem previous to its fourth flight in 2021, for instance, prevented its rotors from spinning, leaving it grounded till a repair was transmitted to the plane from the staff on Earth.
Based on JPL’s knowledge, the helicopter, which is the one plane to have carried out powered, managed flight on a planet aside from Earth, has now traveled a complete distance of 11 miles (practically 18 km) and stayed within the air for a complete of 128.3 minutes. Ingenuity’s report flight pace to this point is 22.4 mph (10 meters per second) and its report altitude is 78.8 ft (24 meters).
The helicopter arrived on Mars as a know-how demonstration however its flights have been so profitable that it ended up helping NASA’s Perseverance rover by capturing imagery of the terrain to assist mission planners choose the perfect routes for the wheel-based rover because it explores Mars’ Jezero Crater for indicators of historical microbial life.