Home / Science / The Mars Ingenuity helicopter set an unprecedented flight record when NASA expands its mission.

The Mars Ingenuity helicopter set an unprecedented flight record when NASA expands its mission.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter Landed on thursday From annoying software problems But understandably successful, the fourth flight in Mars’ ultra-thin atmosphere, Venus, begins a new phase of an expanded scientific operation for a $ 80 million drone.

“The ingenuity was successful on the fourth flight today and we couldn’t be happier,” Project Manager MiMi Aung said in an online status report. “We have a lot of data to analyze. Ingenuity’s performance on Mars is literally the perfect fit. It’s an amazing moment for our whole team!”

Data from helicopters returned to Earth via NASA̵

7;s Perseverance probe and Mars orbiter confirmed that the 4-pound helicopter left “Wright Brothers Field” in Jezero Crater at 10:49 a.m. EDT (12:33 a.m. Local time on Mars)

A photograph from the Mars rover Perseverance captured the Ingenuity helicopter on Friday flight (far right) while flying over 400 feet from “Wright Brothers Field” in Jezero Crater to chalk up the fourth successful expedition.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS

Then climbed to an altitude of 16 feet, tilted south and flew approximately 436 feet, and then retreated again before a touchdown, one minute and 57 seconds after the lift.

Along the way, the mini drone captures 60 black and white images of the ground below, along with a 5-color perspective. The data will be used to create a three-dimensional topographic map to help mission planners identify new “airfields” for use in the field. future

“Success,” the Jet Propulsion lab, which made it smarter, tweeted after the flight confirmation data was released. #MarsHelicopter Completed Flight 4, flew further and faster than ever before, and captured more images while flying over the Martian surface. We expect those images to be downlinked later. “

NASA science chief Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted, “Unbelievable! Congratulations to the team on Flight 4 of Ingenuity! ”

The 4-pound helicopter was added to the Persistence rover mission As a demonstration, the technology has met all pre-flight objectives during three flawless test flights earlier this month.

As a result, NASA managers decided to expand the drone’s mission to include at least one more month of flight, allowing the rotorcraft to work on collecting science data. At the same time, persistence will shift from supporting helicopter operations to preparing for its own scientific mission.

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“As intelligence continues to be healthy, we plan to use it to benefit future gondolas while prioritizing and moving forward with the Perseverance rover team’s close-range scientific goals.” Zurbuchen said in an earlier statement.

For the next flight, the fifth helicopter, “We will send Ingenuity on a one-way flight to transfer to the new airport,” Aung said during a briefing on Friday. “Upon arrival, we will work closely with (Perseverance team) to identify new products and scenarios that we want to test (next). I can’t tell you how excited we are with this new phase. ”

Initially, the engineer had reserved two test flights in case the intelligence failed to achieve the primary objective during the first three. But holders of places that are no longer needed have been transformed into transitional flights, bridging the gap between proof of concept and operational demonstration of aerial exploration capabilities.

“Right now, we will … work with operational products, such as aerial observations of specific scientific goals or viewing contextual features from locations inaccessible to the rovers,” Aung said. Another operational product we will be looking at will be reconnaissance for possible scientific observations, reconnaissance for future probes, or reconnaissance for new airfields for helicopters to be transferred to.

“We were also able to look at the digital elevation mapping stereo imaging, so when we built these products, the lessons learned from such exercises will greatly benefit future missions with the cable car and as we follow. These operational products we will continue to push. Ability of intelligence “”

Intelligence also captures the imagination of the world. First flight, April 19 About a month after arriving to Mars in a persistent rover The drone climbed to an altitude of about 10 feet, flew for a moment, and then landed.

It flies Second time On April 22, climbed 16 feet and flew about 7 feet to one side and returned again for it. Third flight On April 25, Intelligence climbed back up to 16 feet and flew 164 feet down before returning to its starting point.

An earlier image of an Ingenuity helicopter placed on the Martian surface after its launch from the Perseverance probe.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

“When Ingenuity’s landing arrives after the third flight, we know we have accumulated enough data to help engineers design the next generation of Mars helicopters,” Bob Balaram, JPL’s chief engineer, Ingenuity said in the online status report. “We now plan to expand our range and timeline to gain more performance insights.”

The team originally planned to release the helicopter on its fourth flight on Thursday. But the data sent back to Earth showed Ingenuity’s flight computer could not be switched to flight mode as expected.

A similar problem arose on April 9 during propeller rotation tests prior to the drones. First flight.

At the time, engineers were debating whether to remove Ingenuity’s aviation software and load a modified version from scratch, or simply uplink additional commands that would increase the chances of a successful transition to flight mode.

They decided that the latter option was less risky. But at that time a mistake could happen again. The ingenuity then operated three successful test flights in a row, re-entering Thursday’s planned flight when it could not be switched into flight mode.

The system was working as usual on Friday, Balaram said, the team may reassess whether to replace Ingenuity’s aviation software with a modified version to avoid such problems down the road.

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