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Mars Helicopter

Mars Helicopter Successful 52nd Flight Amidst Connectivity Issues

The brave Ingenuity Mars helicopter might return to the air in the next two weeks.

How was the 52nd flight of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter?

The 52nd flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was a success. This is now written in the mission record. The breakout happened on April 26, but mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California lost touch with the helicopter as it landed. The Ingenuity team knew that contact would break down. It was for the reason that a hill stood between where the chopper landed and where the Perseverance rover was, making it hard for the two to talk to each other. The rover sends radio signals from the airplane to the mission managers at JPL.

How did the contact with Ingenuity Mars Helicopter recover?

The Ingenuity Mars helicopters’ team had already made plans for getting back in touch with the rover when it drove back into range before the communication broke down. On June 28, when Perseverance came over the hill and could see Ingenuity again, contact was made again.

The goal of Flight 52, which lasted 139 seconds and covered 1,191 feet (363 meters), was to move the chopper and take pictures of the surface of Mars for the science team working on the rover.

What was the viewpoint of the Ingenuity team lead on the situation?

Josh Anderson, the Ingenuity team lead at JPL, said,

“The part of Jezero Crater that the rover and helicopter are currently exploring has a lot of rough terrains, which makes it more likely that communications will drop.”

“The team’s goal is to keep Creativity ahead of Persistence, which sometimes means briefly going beyond the limits of communication. We’re glad to be able to talk to Ingenuity Mars helicopter again and hear that Flight 52 has taken off.”

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is seen in shadow in an image captured by its navigation camera during the rotorcraft’s 52nd flight on April 26. This image was finally received after Perseverance and Ingenuity were out of communication for 63 days. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sixty-three days is a long time to wait for the results of a flight. But the information shows that the first plane on another world is doing fine. If the rest of Ingenuity’s health checks are just as good, the chopper could be ready to fly again in a couple of weeks.

Flight 53 will go to a temporary airport in the west. From there, the team will take another westward flight to a new base of operations. This base lies near a rocky outcrop that the Perseverance team wants to explore.

More keen details on the Ingenuity of Mars helicopter planning

JPL built the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and also ran the project for NASA Headquarters. The Science Mission Directorate at NASA helps with it. During the creation of Ingenuity, NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, helped with flight performance analysis and technical help. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero also helped with the concept and made essential parts for the car. Lockheed Space was involved in creating and producing the Mars Delivery System.

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