Martian helicopter resumes flights after emergency landing

On August 12, the Ingenuity drone helicopter made its first full flight after a recent emergency landing. It ended with success.

A picture of the Martian surface taken by the Ingenuity helicopter drone during the 55th flight. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The new flight was already the 55th for Ingenuity. Its purpose was to move the drone to a new site and conduct aerial reconnaissance of the route for the Perseverance rover. In total, the flight lasted 143 seconds. During this time, Ingenuity covered a distance of 264 meters. Its maximum speed was 4.7 m/s, the height reached was 10 meters.

The successful flight has confirmed that all Ingenuity systems are functioning normally and it can continue to work. Recall that in July, the drone had problems. Then it managed to overcome only part of the planned route, after which, obeying the built-in program, the spacecraft made a premature landing

After analyzing the telemetry, NASA experts came to the conclusion that the reason for the incident was that the images from the helicopter’s navigation camera were not synchronized with the data of the inertial measuring spacecraft. Ingenuity has already faced such a problem in the past, after which engineers installed a special patch on it. But in that flight, the number of unsynchronized navigation images turned out to be so large that it triggered the safety program.

After this unplanned landing, engineers tested Ingenuity by lifting it into the air for 24 seconds, and then returning it to its original place. This short takeoff demonstrated that the drone was not damaged during the emergency landing, which gave the mission specialists the opportunity to resume its flights.

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