The NASA Ingenuity helicopter has made another flight, rising into the Martian sky for the second time after a two-month break due to bad weather on Mars. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ingenuity took off on September 18 and covered a distance of about 94 meters above the surface. The helicopter took 55 seconds to cover the distance and reached a maximum speed of 17.1 km/h.
Sunday’s flight was the 32nd for Ingenuity and the second this month. The 1.8 kg helicopter took off for the first time after “hibernation” on September 6. In general, Ingenuity was originally designed for a demonstration mission of five flights. The mission is supposed to show that flight is generally possible in the thin atmosphere of Mars. The helicopter quickly coped with this task and moved on to an extended mission, during which it serves as a Perseverance scout.
Can you spot the two hints of Ingenuity in this image? pic.twitter.com/1oj6jMDFdl
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) September 20, 2022
The 32nd flight brought the helicopter even closer to the dried-up ancient delta of the river at the bottom of the Martian Jezero crater with a diameter of 45 km. The terrain near the crater is now being actively studied by the helicopter’s robotic partner, the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity team members said getting to the river delta is the immediate priority for the mission.
Perseverance has been studying the river delta for several months. The car-sized rover has already collected four samples of rocks rich in organic molecules — the building blocks of life, containing carbon. Researchers will be able to study this intriguing material in detail here on Earth, if everything goes according to plan. NASA and the European Space Agency will team up to deliver samples of the rover to our planet in a special mission as early as 2033.
Earlier we reported on how Ingenuity recorded an amazing video of a fast flight over Mars.
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