The ingenuity helicopter explores Mars on its own for the first time

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    The Fifth Flight of NASA’s Inventive Mars Helicopter was intercepted on May 7, 2021, by one of the navigation cameras on the agency’s Perseverance rover.  This was the first time it flew to a new landing site.
The Fifth Flight of NASA’s Inventive Mars Helicopter was intercepted on May 7, 2021, by one of the navigation cameras on the agency’s Perseverance rover. This was the first time it flew to a new landing site. NASA / JPL-Caltech

NASA’s ingenuity helicopter has made another successful flight, this time on its way away from its home location and exploring a new area of ​​the red planet.

On Friday, May 7, at 3:26 p.m. ET (12:26 p.m.), a helicopter made a one-way trip from a previous home base called Wright Brothers Field to a new airport located 423 meters south.

“We offer adieu to our first Martian home, Wright Brothers Field, in gratitude for the support it provided for the historic first flights of the planetary rotor vessel,” said Bob Balaram, chief engineer at Ingenity Mars Helicopter at JPL opinion. “No matter where we go from here, we always carry with us a reminder of how much those two Dayton bicycle builders meant to us as we embarked on our first flight in the second world.”

During a 108-second flight, ingenuity traveled to its new territory and then flew upward to its territory highest height yet 33 feet. From this height, it was able to take high-resolution color images of the area below. Such an ability could be invaluable for future Rover missionshelicopters capable of acting as scouts and identifying safe driving routes or points of interest.

“The fifth flight of the Mars helicopter is another major achievement for the agency,” said Bob Pearce, director of NASA’s aeronautical research department. “The continued success of ingenuity demonstrates the value of combining the strengths of a set of different skills from across the agency to create the future, like flying an airplane on another planet!”

Now ingenuity has settled into the new airport and it is still connected to the Perseverance driver. Perseverance also travels south, and so they can stay connected for a while.

“The plan is to fly ingenuity in a way that doesn’t diminish the pace of Perseverance science,” Balaram said. “We might get a couple more flights over the next few weeks, and then the agency will evaluate how we’re doing. We’ve already been able to gather all the flight data we originally came here to collect. Now this new operating demo allows us to expand our knowledge of planes on other planets.”

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