Madrid, 30 (European Press)
The first powered aircraft with controlled flight in another world traveled 704 meters at a speed of 5.5 meters per hour, and was the longest and fastest helicopter flight on the Red Planet to date. Ingenuity is currently preparing for its 29th flight.
“For our unprecedented flight, the Ingenuity Navigation Downward Camera gave us an impressive sense of what it would be like to glide 10 meters above the surface of Mars at 19 kilometers per hour,” the commander said in a statement. From the Ingenuity team, Teddy Zzanitos of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The first frame of the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thk4Rha-fTk) starts about a second into the flight. Having reached an altitude of 10 meters, the helicopter heads to the southwest, accelerating to its maximum speed in less than three seconds. The helicopter first flew over a group of sandy waves and then, about halfway through the video, several rocky fields. Finally, a relatively flat and featureless terrain appears below, providing a good place to land. The 161.3-second flight video was sped up nearly five times, reducing it to under 35 seconds.
The navigation camera is programmed to deactivate when the helicopter is within one meter of the surface. This helps ensure that dust flying during take-off and landing does not interfere with the navigation system as it tracks features on the ground.
Dexterity flights are independent. The “pilots” at JPL plot their plans and send commands to the Perseverance Mars vehicle, which relays these commands to the helicopter. During the flight, sensors on board – a navigation camera, an inertial measurement unit and a laser rangefinder – provide real-time data to the main flight computer and Ingenuity’s navigation processor, which guides the helicopter during flight. This allows your dexterity to interact with the scene as you carry out your commands.
Mission controllers recently lost contact with Ingenuity after the helicopter went into a low power state. Now that the helicopter is back in contact and getting enough power from its solar panel to charge the six lithium-ion batteries, the team is looking forward to its next trip to Mars.
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