Ingenuity makes the longest flight in almost a year

On February 16, the Ingenuity drone helicopter made a new flight. In its course, it covered a distance of 390 meters. This is the best indicator for a drone in almost a whole year. The last time it flew a longer distance was in April 2022.

A picture taken by the Ingenuity helicopter drone during the 43rd flight. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The new flight was already the 43rd for Ingenuity. It lasted 146 seconds. The maximum speed developed by the spacecraft was 4 m/s, the height was 12 meters.

The 43rd flight is a continuation of a recent series of movements, during which Ingenuity gradually deepens into the remains of an ancient river delta that once existed at the bottom of the Jezero crater. It is planned to use it for aerial reconnaissance in order to create a Perseverance route and search for new targets for it. In addition, Ingenuity will be able to photograph areas inaccessible to the rover.

It is worth noting that Ingenuity has already left the relatively flat terrain where it operated during its first Martian year. According to experts, in the near future they expect an even greater complication of the terrain, which will significantly increase the risks for the drone. It will have to operate in an unfamiliar area with a large number of dangerous areas. Also, cases of loss of communication between Ingenuity and Perseverance due to terrain features are not excluded.

Ingenuity helicopter drone on Mars. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.

Nevertheless, the engineers intend to continue the Ingenuity journey. The small drone has already exceeded its warranty period many times and it even managed to survive the winter in very difficult conditions. Every new day spent by Ingenuity on Mars is essentially an experiment that allows to further push the boundaries of survivability and capabilities of the rotorcraft.

Earlier we talked about how scientists used Ingenuity data to study the movement of dust in the Martian atmosphere.

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