Mars helicopter Ingenuity gearing up for tenth Red Planet flight this weekend

Mars helicopter Ingenuity gearing up for tenth Red Planet flight this weekend

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flew over these sand dunes and rocks during its ninth flight, on July 5, 2021.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flew over these sand dunes and rocks at some stage in its ninth flight, on July 5, 2021.
(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Martian flight tally of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter will rapidly hit double digits.

The 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper’s 10th Red Planet flight might perhaps per chance happen as early as Saturday (July 24), NASA officials stated at some stage in a news conference on Wednesday (July 21). 

The sortie will overview “Raised Ridges,” they added. Raised Ridges is a series of rock aspects internal Mars’ Jezero Crater from which Ingenuity’s robotic accomplice, NASA’s Perseverance rover, might perhaps per chance terminate up collecting some samples for future return to Earth.

Perseverance and Ingenuity landed collectively on Feb. 18 on the flooring of the 28-mile-huge (45 kilometers) Jezero, which hosted a lake and a river delta in the old usual previous. In early April, Ingenuity deployed from Perseverance’s belly, kicking off a monthlong expertise-demonstrating flight campaign.

Related: Ingenuity noticed a ‘heart’ in Perseverance rover’s tracks on 9th flight (video)

The rotorcraft aced all 5 of the sorties it conducted at some stage in that stretch. NASA then granted Ingenuity a mission extension, in which the helicopter is showcasing the scouting attainable of Mars aerial vehicles. 

As an instance, Ingenuity checked out a geologic unit known as Séítah at some stage in its ninth flight, which occurred on July 5. Séítah sports hundreds of sand dunes, making it too complex for Perseverance to traverse, even for tentative “toe-dips” to investigate cross-test exposed bedrock. But Ingenuity’s imagery will again the rover group of workers diagram out attainable toe-dip spots at other locations alongside its projected Jezero direction, NASA officials stated.

Ingenuity additionally captured some imagery of Raised Ridges at some stage in the July 5 sortie. But the helicopter and rover groups prefer more photos of the pickle, which is fragment of a smash intention at some stage in which liquid water can also have flowed lengthy previously. 

The Ingenuity group of workers has been pushing the helicopter’s capabilities at some stage in the extended mission. As an instance, on the ninth flight, Ingenuity traveled about 2,051 feet (650 meters), reached a top tear of 11 mph (17.7 kph) and stayed aloft for 166 seconds — all records for the minute robot. 

“I truly must snarl, when we’re all sitting there looking ahead to the info to realize support down, we were very relieved that the helicopter succeeded on that very audacious flight,” Perseverance project manager Jennifer Trosper, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, stated at some stage in Wednesday’s news conference.

Perseverance’s critical mission targets involve seeking indicators of previous Mars life and collecting and caching dozens of samples, that is also returned to Earth by a joint NASA-European Condo Agency campaign, per chance as early as 2031.

Perseverance spent its first few months on Mars getting its systems up and running and supporting Ingenuity’s first few flights, however the six-wheeled rover is now focusing on its private wants. It has begun its life-hunting work and is getting ready to derive its first pattern, a milestone that might perhaps per chance happen internal the subsequent two weeks, mission group of workers participants stated on Wednesday.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Huge Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book in regards to the look forward to alien life. Note him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Note us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Condo.com since 2010. His book in regards to the look forward to alien life, “Out There,” used to be printed on Nov. 13, 2018. Earlier than changing exact into a science writer, Michael labored as a herpetologist and plants and fauna biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To uncover what his most fresh project is, it’s likely you’ll per chance well per chance also apply Michael on Twitter. 

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