NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its 10th flight to Mars on Saturday, bringing its total distance flown over the Red Planet to more than one mile (approximately 1.60 kilometers) and taking important pictures to help his friend, the Rover Perseverance.
U Twitter post early sunday NASA has confirmed that it is alsothe helicopter flew over an area called “Raised Ridges,” which is part of a fracture system that the Perseverance team finds intriguing and considering a visit sometime in the future. Fracture systems often work as trails that the liquid comes underground. If the water really did flow through the Raised Ridges, it would be an ideal place to look for evidence of a past Martian life, which is the main goal of the rover, and perhaps even drill the sample for further testing.
On Friday, ingenuity operations manager Teddy Tzanetos described the planned flight path of the helicopter in status update. Tzanetos said Flight 10 is Ingenuity’s most complex endeavor to date in terms of navigation and performance. The flight contained 10 different waypoints and a nominal altitude of 12 meters, which is a new record altitude and the 33-meter (10-meter) increase he achieved on his ninth flight. He said the flight was expected to last approximately 165 seconds.
Tzanetos explained that the flight, about which NASA has not yet released all the details, will start with Ingenuity taking off from its sixth airport and then moving south-southwest about 50 meters. Next, the helicopter will take two images of the Raised Reef from different waypoints facing south. It will continue to fly further west and northwest, taking photos of the Raised Ridge from every visible point. NASA wants to use the overlapping data from these waypoints to create different stereo images.
The status update also takes time to remind us how ingenuity has exceeded its initial goals and performed impressive maneuvers. He survived 107 solos, or Mars days, on Mars, which is 76 more than his original mission.
In addition, the helicopter also managed to make two software updates for the summer designed to improve its flight and color imaging capabilities. Ingenuity flew on Mars for a total of more than 14 minutes, or more than 112% above its performance in technological demonstrations. It also provided us with new views of the Red Planet, capturing 43 13-megapixel color images and 809 black-and-white navigation images.
Overall, ingenuity has broadened our horizons of what is possible on Mars and provided us with an exciting gift of knowledge during these challenging times on Earth. Let’s keep cheering for it and enjoy while we can.