Ingenuity Helicopter Takes an Ambitious Shortcut on Mars in Record-Breaking Ninth Flight

A helicopter took this image of Ingenuitys shadow on July 5, 2021. Image courtesy NASA/JPL–Caltech The Ingenuity helicopter has successfully landed its ninth-most difficult flight, which was the craft's ninth. The helicopter flew over rough terrain at high speed. Advertisement NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced the flight's success in a tweet. Hvard Grip (chief pilot) and Bob Balaram (chief engineer), had previously described their plans for the flight in a NASA post. Ingenuity's ninth flight would surpass its existing groundspeed, distance and airtime records, according to their post. Although we have yet to receive all details about this latest flight, Grip and Balaram stated that the craft would be instructed by Ingenuity to fly at 16,5 feet per second (over 2,05 0ft) and the flight would take approximately three minutes. Ingenuity, the Perseverance Rover's scientific explorations began last month. Ingenuity has remained faithful to its terrestrial counterpart. This time, not so. Perseverance can be found at the eastern edge a rugged stretch Mars called Stah or among the sand in Din Bizaad the Navajo language. NASA scientists believe that the Stah is difficult for a wheeled vehicle because of its undulating sands. This made the area ideal for Ingenuity's growth. The helicopter had to travel far beyond the rover it carried the 183 million miles from Earth. The craft's first five flights had demonstrated the usefulness of an aerial vehicle on Mars. This was also evident in flying across the dunes. Ingenuity's navigation algorithm was also challenged by the ninth flight. It was designed to read the flat terrain of Mars, and not the Stah's undulating sands. The Stah on Mars seen from 33 feet high during Ingenuity's sixth flight in May 2021. Image courtesy NASA/JPL–Caltech From the ninth flight, some black-and-white imagery was released. However, new color images of the Stahs ripples and rocks, which Ingenuity passed, are still to be seen. It is likely that the craft did not maintain a steady speed throughout its flight. Because of uncertainty over how Ingenuity's navigation system would interpret Stahs changing topography, Ingenuity instructed the craft to fly slower over rougher areas of the region. Grip and Balaram stated in their blog that the ninth flight was the nerve-rackingest since the helicopter's maiden voyage to the Red Planet. Although they have yet to release all data, one thing is certain: The flight was a success and we are yet to surpass the record for this record-breaking helicopter. More: Perseverance Rover Stars Look for Life on Mars with Ingenuity and Perseverance

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