'We're going big': Nasa's Ingenuity copter set to push its limits for next flight on Mars

The Ingenuity helicopter has till now remained close enough to the Perseverence rover on the Martian surface. However, for its next flight, Ingenuity will try to break its own records in distance, time aloft, and groundspeed, Nasa said.
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Left Mastcam-Z camera. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Left Mastcam-Z camera. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)
Published on Jul 03, 2021 12:29 PM IST
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Byhindustantimes.com | Written by Joydeep Bose

Nasa's Ingenuity helicopter, operating on the surface of Mars, is aiming for new records for its next flight. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Friday said that the small solar-charged rotorcraft will be "taking things to a new level" in Flight 9, its next journey, where Ingenuity will be travelling in high-speed across unfamiliar terrain far away from the Perseverence rover.

Also Read | How Perseverance rover took historic selfie on Mars? Nasa engineer Vandi Verma explains

The Ingenuity helicopter has till now remained close enough to the Perseverence rover on the Martian surface, their present location being the eastern edge of a scientifically interesting region called the "Séítah", characterised by sandy ripples that could be very challenging terrain for wheeled vehicles like the rover. "Ingenuity’s last two flights have been designed to keep up with the rover on this journey," Nasa said in its official status update on Friday.

However, for its next flight -- Flight 9 -- Ingenuity will "attempt to do something that only an aerial vehicle at Mars could accomplish", Nasa said. The small robotic helicopter will now try to take a shortcut straight across a portion of the Séítah region and land on a plain to the south. "On the way, we plan to take color aerial images of the rocks and ripples that we pass over," the organisation said.

Also Read | In a first, Nasa's Ingenuity helicopter makes history with flight on Mars

Ingenuity will try to break its own records in distance, time aloft, and groundspeed, Nasa said. For accomplishing this feat, the helicopter will try to attempt the following things:

1. Fly 2,051 feet (625 meters)

2. Hit a speed of 5 meters (16 feet) per second

3. Remain airborne for approximately 167 seconds

4. All along, it will try to click colour images of the trip

"This max effort will also challenge Ingenuity’s navigation algorithm in a fundamentally new way," Nasa said, adding that Ingenuity flies high enough above the terrain to ignore problems caused by oscillations and altitude control.

Earlier on April 6, Nasa’s Perseverance rover captured a historic selfie beside the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on the Red Planet, which proved to be one of the most complex rover selfies ever taken. While selfies primarily allow engineers to check wear and tear on the rover, they can also inspire a new generation of space enthusiasts.

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Friday, December 03, 2021