NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter achieved “freedom of the air” in its third aerial adventure over Mars.

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Left: Ingenuity on the surface of Mars. Right: Illustration of the flight of Ingenuity. NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU

NASA Ingenuity Helicopter A successful third flight over the surface of Mars on Sunday.

The helicopter made a history of space flight when it took off from Mars last Monday and climbed 10 feet above the surface of the planet. Never before has a spacecraft made a controlled flight on another planet.

Then on Thursday, Ingenuity flew even higher-16 feet-and Move sidewayss First time.

The Sunday flight promised to be the helicopter’s most daring excursion to date.

NASA has not released details, but if the flight progresses As planned, Ingenuity was supposed to reach the same altitude as last time, but increased the maximum airspeed from 0.5 meters per second to 2 meters per second (about 4.5 mph). It probably traveled 50 meters (164 feet) north, then flew back the way it came and landed gently on the copper-colored Martian dust.

The entire flight lasted about 80 seconds and the total distance was 100 meters (330 feet).

“Flight 3 is a big step and Ingenuity will begin to experience freedom in the sky,” said HÃ¥vard Grip, Chief Pilot of Ingenuity. Written on friday Before the third excursion.

The Ingenuity team plans to push the helicopter to the limit, even if it crashes.

Ingenuity Second Flight Mars Helicopter

Ingenuity has proven that aerial exploration is possible on other planets, but its mission is not yet complete. Currently, NASA wants to obtain as much flight data as possible to inform future space helicopter efforts.

With up to two more flights in the next two weeks, Ingenuity’s controller plans to push the helicopter up as fast as possible.In the process, they Expect Ingenuity to crash..

“We want to push the rotorcraft to the limit and really learn and regain information from it,” Ingenuity project manager MiMi Aung said at a recent press conference.

Ingenious flight truck

Ingenuity took the first color image of the surface of Mars taken by the aircraft during the second flight test on April 22, 2021. NASA / JPL-Caltech

According to the NASA website, the fifth and last venture can take lateral ingenuity across 980 feet of Martian ground. But Aung said he “likes” pushing it over 2,000 feet.

By the fifth flight, Aung said in a pre-flight briefing on April 9, “the helicopter is unlikely to land safely as it begins to enter uninvestigated areas.”

As you speed up, you’ll also challenge the chopper mechanism and its navigation system.

“If the landing is bad, it will be the end of the mission,” Aung said. “Life depends on the degree of landing.”

The approaching deadline for the last two flights

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Animation of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter exploring the surface of Mars. NASA / JPL-Caltech

Ingenuity’s flight gives a glimpse into the potential of future space helicopters to explore inaccessible parts of Mars and other planetary rover. Caves, canyons, mountains and rocky terrain all have the potential to become the realm of a new generation of space drone explorers.

However, a 4-pound helicopter (approximately the size of a tissue box) is approaching the impending deadline.

By preparation and delay Software problem We spent the first two weeks of NASA’s 30-day window conducting up to five flights. It takes less than two weeks for Perseverance, the rover who brought ingenuity to Mars, to continue his main alien fossil hunting mission.

Aung said Monday that there should be enough time to squeeze all five flights as planned.

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