On April 2, the Ingenuity drone helicopter made its 49th flight. During it, drone set new altitude and airspeed records in the atmosphere of the Red Planet.
Two new records for the #MarsHelicopter! Ingenuity successfully completed Flight 49, setting a new flight speed record of 14.5 mph (6.5 m/s) and an altitude record of 52.5 ft (16 meters).
See more stats: https://t.co/7DMHj9LkNX pic.twitter.com/Od4jXGS8QE
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 3, 2023
In total, the 49th flight of Ingenuity lasted 142.7 seconds. In its course, it covered a distance of 282 meters. The maximum flight altitude of Ingenuity was 16 meters, the speed was 6.5 meters per second. Thus, the Martian helicopter has updated its own records.
The purpose of the new flight was to move Ingenuity along the crater shaft of the 900-meter Belva crater, which has a bottom covered with sand dunes. Now engineers are using the drone as an aerial scout for the Perseverance rover. Ingenuity moves in the vanguard in front of the rover, photographing the surrounding terrain. Specialists analyze the pictures taken by Ingenuity for potential dangers for Perseverance, and then build its route.
Of course, by the standards of terrestrial drones, Ingenuity’s record figures look rather modest. But do not forget that the Martian atmosphere is 160 times thinner than the Earth’s. Not so long ago, many experts doubted the fundamental possibility of controlled flight in such conditions. Ingenuity has shown the fallacy of such views. It was thanks to the success of the little scout that NASA decided to include a pair of drones in the Mars Sample Return mission. They will have to pick up samples of Martian soil collected by the Perseverance rover and load them onto the take-off module, which will then send them to Earth.
It is also worth saying that today Ingenuity can make its 50th anniversary flight. During its course, the spacecraft will have to move at least another 300 meters.
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