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Monday, June 14, 2021

NASA Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Makes Longest and Fastest Flight

NASA’s Mars helicopter again went up, going fast and traveling the total distance that was about the length of an American football field on its third voyage through the intelligent air of Mars.

Like the first two flights, the small experimental flight robot named Ingenuity fully executed its instructions from Earth. 1:31 pm Eastern Time – 12:33 pm Local Tues time – It lifted 16 feet off the ground, then flew at a round-trip distance of 328 feet before starting back.

This was about 25 times as far as the second flight had taken off three days earlier. The helicopter reached a top speed of 4.5 mph, and the flight lasted approximately one minute and 20 seconds.

The flight was a test of the helicopter’s navigation system, which keeps track of its location by comparing the ground characteristics recorded by its onboard camera. The farther it traveled, the more images its camera had to remember the landscape below. If it flies too fast, the helicopter may lose track of where it was.

“This is the first time we have seen algorithms for cameras moving over long distances,” said Mimi Aung, the helicopter’s project manager. NASA released a news. “You can’t do this inside a test room.”

Credit …NASA / JPL-Caltech

Inguenite, three feet tall, is an $ 85 million project that demonstrates that controlled flight, such as an airplane or helicopter, is possible on Mars, where the atmosphere on the surface is just 1 percent of Earth.

It was tackled by Perseverance, NASA’s latest Mars rover that came to the red planet in February. Firmly embarks on his main mission – to search for signs of ancient life in a dry river delta – the Ingenuity team has 30 Martian days, or about 31 Earth days, to complete the helicopter’s five test flights. Is for.

“Today’s flight was exactly what we had planned, and yet it was not surprising.” With this flight, we are demonstrating the critical capabilities that future Mars missions have, said Dave Lavari, program executive for the helicopter project. Will be able to add an aerial dimension. “

Last Monday, Ingenuity made history as the first powered aircraft to fly on another planet. The first flight was a short one: a simple upside-down 39.1 seconds off the ground. The second flight, on Thursday, was slightly overrun and made a short lateral move.

With the success of the first three flights, the helicopter’s engineers have more than a week to complete the final two, which will advance Ingenuity’s capabilities. Ms. Aang, the project’s manager, said after the first flight last week that she expected the last one to be about 2,300 feet from her starting point.

NASA said the fourth flight will take off in a few days.

There is currently no plan to place a second helicopter on Mars. But the project’s chief engineer, Bob Balaram, said he and his colleagues had begun designing designs for a large Mars helicopter, capable of carrying about 10 pounds of science equipment.

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