Ingenuity Mars helicopter of NASA is set to embark on its 49th flight on the red planet. It was in February 2021 that Ingenuity arrived on Mars along with the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity has been assisting the rover in scouting the best routes across the rocky surface using its onboard camera.
At the outset, the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) only wanted to see if the helicopter could get airborne in Mars’ thin atmosphere. Ingenuity, since then, has completed increasingly complex flights, culminating in assisting the rover. A 49th flight this week could send Ingenuity to its highest altitude yet.
A new altitude record was set by Ingenuity during its 35th flight, reaching 46 feet (14 meters) above the Martian surface. Ingenuity’s new record beat its previous altitude of 39 feet (12 meters).
Lasting for 52 seconds, flight 35 of Ingenuity covered 49 feet (15 meters) of ground. The helicopter needs to stay in touch with the Perseverance rover, which acts as a communication conduit between Ingenuity & its team back on Earth.
It’s being planned by NASA to build a more advanced version of the helicopter for further missions to Mars & possibly other planets. The Mars helicopter has overcome technical issues, dust, freezing temperatures, & low power during its short but exciting life. Ingenuity has been prepared by a recent software update to handle more challenging terrain & to continue working as a rover scout.
Current record for Ingenuity for time spent in the air is 16.9 seconds, & the farthest it’s flown in a single outing is 2,325 feet (708.9 meters). Ingenuity’s ability to last this long has impressed NASA, which is looking forward to more flights to come.