The NASA Ingenuity helicopter has taken to the sky of Mars again after a long break due to terrible weather and cold conditions on a distant planet. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which oversees the space agency’s mission, posted on Twitter the news about the return of the flying machine to the Martian sky. The flight included a “short jump”, which allowed the team to check whether all systems were working properly, while at the same time removing dust from the solar panel.
The takeoff was Ingenuity’s 30th takeoff. It took place 16 months after its historic first takeoff, making it the first aircraft to make a controlled flight on a planet other than Earth.
The #MarsHelicopter is back in flight! After a two-month hiatus, the rotorcraft did a short hop over the weekend so the team can check its vitals and knock some dust off the solar panel.
Learn more about why the team wanted a simple Flight 30: https://t.co/02Bn48aQ3Y pic.twitter.com/bnCUG794Ks
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) August 22, 2022
The helicopter’s “rest” was caused by the harsh winter conditions that enveloped the Jezero crater, where the flying machine is located. The ultra-low temperatures did not allow the device to operate safely, and the reduced amount of sunlight did not allow the helicopter to maintain a proper charge level both during the day and at night. Conditions forced it to stay in place after the last flight on June 11, 2022.
After several short ground tests on August 6 and 15, the JPL team confirmed that Ingenuity is ready to make its first flight after two months. According to the plan, the flight involved lifting the device to a maximum height of 5 meters, a horizontal flight of about 2 meters, and then a soft return to the surface. The flight was expected to last about 33 seconds.
Next month, JPL will upload a software update to Ingenuity that will give it new navigation capabilities for more efficient flights due to the difficult terrain in the dried-up river delta.
Earlier we reported on how Ingenuity recorded an amazing video of an upcoming flight over Mars.
According to NASA
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