NASA’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter has been giving us some of the most breathtaking views of the planet. Two flights were successfully completed recently, flight number 12 on August 15 and number 13 this past Labor Day weekend. Fight 12 astounded scientists because of how far the simple prototype had come. The helicopter only weighs 1.8 kg and was initially designed to show what a simple vehicle could achieve exploring the planet. The original plan for the flight was to go to South Séítah, flying at a 10m altitude and traveling about 235m to get side-by-side detailed images of surface terrain clear enough to make a full 3-D image. During this time over 10 images would be captured, and then given to the Perseverance rover to determine further areas of the planet for study. Ingenuity has dealt with Mars’s harsh winds, dusty, rocky surfaces, craters, and volcanic activity. The helicopter had been through an extremely rough flight from Earth when it was launched back in April of this year for its first trip. The goal of each flight is to learn as much as we can about Mars. With the atmosphere being only 1% of the density of Earth’s, ingenuity is navigating the planet with a high degree of difficulty, making exploration a bigger obstacle.
Flight 13 was able to fly closer to the planet than any previous attempt, 13 also covered a shorter distance than its predecessor traveling 690 feet compared to 1476 feet on flight 12. The helicopter was never designed to be flying cameras when in prototype stage, so the fact it is accomplishing such feats and lasting long enough is astonishing to scientists. The photos from different directions may help uncover more angles and reveal hidden points of interest. Overall, the team is excited by the results. We are excited to see what answers these discoveries will unlock about the red planet.
To read the original article by NASA, click here.
For past coverage Lenox Laser has written about Perseverance and Ingenuity, click here.