The Martian helicopter, Ingenuity’s flights, are just getting better with time, with the mini drone-friend to Martian Rover, Perseverance, took to the skies of Mars for the longest duration so far.
The third flight has been termed as the farthest and the fastest in all the flying endeavors of Ingenuity so far, setting new records for the bird itself and the records for flying out of the earth’s surface. This series of Ingenuity flight tests are being conducted on Mars primarily to test and experience the planet’s flying conditions that vary greatly from what is experienced on earth.
These initial small flight tests of Ingenuity will lead the scientists and researchers to know more about what specs would be required to build future flying tech that goes in sync with the Martian atmosphere.
The Ingenuity took off for its third flight from Wright Brothers Field on the Red Planet in Jezero Crater on the 25th of April. It reached higher altitudes than its previous flights and got to 16 ft from the ground.
It was also the longest consecutive flight for Ingenuity and went on for approximately 80 seconds. It held greater significance for the camera system as well. Its onboard color camera took aerial images of the Martian surface and got in the Perseverance rover’s rolling mars on the red planet.
Scientists were worried that the algorithms designed for Ingenuity if would work as desired on Mars. Another key concern was dust, which they accounted would block its vision, although it is designed well to cater to that concern. The little panels get titled and allow the winds to scrape off as much dust accumulated on the Ingenuity to clear it away quickly, not letting the dust come in the way of Ingenuity’s functioning.
The third flight test will be followed by a fourth one, planned in a couple of days. The previous two flights saw the ingenuity act as a telemetry relay back to mission control. Moreover, in this third flight, Perseverance used its Mastcam-Z imager to record the flight.
“Today’s flight was what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing,” says Dave Lavery, the project’s program executive for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions.”