Recently, the brave NASA Ingenuity helicopter took to the sky for the 46th time, covering a distance of 500 m. At the same time, during its flight, it took a magnificent photo of the sunset on the Red Planet.
The helicopter’s built-in cameras take photos and videos that help determine the next steps of Ingenuity and Perseverance. The Ingenuity high-resolution color camera is positioned at an angle of 22° below the horizon. Images transmitted to NASA, the 1.8 kg helicopter mainly takes on the surface, in search of interesting geological features and potential obstacles ahead that need to be avoided. However, from time to time, a patch of the Martian sky appears in Ingenuity photos, which reminds us that the helicopter gives a completely new look at Mars. It took such a picture during its 45th flight, but with an even rarer object in the frame — the Sun.
Beauty of a Martian sunset
The photo shows how the Sun hovers over the horizon of the hilltops. The image was taken during sunset on the 714th Martian Day (sol) of Ingenuity. The rays shining through the photo help illuminate the alien landscape of sand and rocks inside the Jezero crater, and it looks almost like a photograph that can be taken in the desert on Earth.
The fact that a sunset photograph from another planet can remind us so much of our own highlights the fine line between the living Earth and the dead worlds orbiting the Sun. This symbolizes the very nature of the search for life on Mars in the past and raises the question of what sunsets on other worlds might look like and whether humanity will ever be able to see them.
Ingenuity Autonomous Flights
Depending on the relative location of Earth and Mars, the transfer between the two planets can take from 5 to 20 minutes. Therefore, Ingenuity was created for independent take-off, flight and landing. Mission controllers program each flight in advance, and then wait for confirmation of the data that the spacecraft has successfully completed the programmed instructions.
Ingenuity is still making short flights around the Martian Jezero crater, continuing to collect data. The spacecraft has significantly exceeded its service life, planned for only five test flights. As of March 2023, Ingenuity has completed 46 successful flights, and the 47th scheduled flight is expected in the coming days.
Earlier we reported on how Ingenuity made a “leap” of 178 meters.
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