For the seventh time, Ingenuity has flown to Mars. The NASA helicopter continues the second phase of its mission with this new flight. It once again reached a landing zone it had not previously landed on.
Another successful flight for Ingenuity on Mars: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has confirmed via Twitter on June 9, 2021 that his helicopter had managed to take off for the seventh time on the red planet. ” It flew for 62.8 seconds and traveled about 106 meters south to a new landing zone », Summarizes the space agency. The helicopter also took a shot with its navigation camera, in black and white, where we can see its shadow cast on the surface of Mars.
This is the second flight in the demonstration phase of operations. Initially, Ingenuity was only meant to demonstrate the possibility of flying to Mars, but NASA eventually decided to give the rotorcraft more time, to see how this type of robot could contribute to missions.
A priori, no worry of oscillation this time
This time, Ingenuity does not seem to have encountered any vibration problem (NASA does not mention it anyway). During the sixth flight of the machine, which occurred on May 22, an anomaly was detected: the helicopter began to oscillate before landing. The cause was identified later. A photograph taken by the robot’s navigation camera during the flight was lost, which shifted the timestamp of subsequent photos. Fortunately, this failure did not jeopardize Ingenuity, which did not land far from the intended area.
The choice to land Ingenuity further south is no accident. This is also the direction in which the Perseverance rover is heading. He is the main actor of the Mars 2020 mission: if the Ingenuity mission could be extended, it is because Nasa considered that it would not harm the scientific activities of the rover. Perseverance was sent to Jezero crater to collect samples from the Martian surface, destined to one day return to Earth (which was not originally planned).
The position of the two robots, the rover and the chopper, can be tracked using this map. We can thus better understand the distance traveled by Ingenuity, compared to its departure “aerodrome”. During the first phase of the mission, the helicopter had to take off and land there. Now it is trying to land on other landing sites.
The continuation in video