NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter just flew sideways over the Martian surface in its second aerial adventure.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully executed a second, more daring flight over the surface of Mars on Thursday morning.
Ingenuity made its aerial debut with a 10-foot hover on Monday – the first controlled, powered flight ever conducted on another planet. The helicopter flew higher and further on Thursday morning, completing its first sideways movement.
Ingenuity’s rotor blades began to spin furiously at 5:33 a.m. ET, when the sun was high on Mars. As the rotors reached a speed 5 times faster than an Earth helicopter, they gave the chopper enough traction in the thin Martian atmosphere to lift about 16 feet off the ground.
Then Ingenuity tilted itself just 5 degrees, enough for the rotors’ thrust to push it sideways for about 7 feet before stopping to hover. From there, it rotated to point its camera in different directions, probably producing stunning color photos that will soon beam back to NASA. The Perseverance rover, which carried Ingenuity to Mars, should beam back video of the flight as well.
Finally, Ingenuity flew back the way it came and landed gently in the copper-colored Martian dust.
The data that Ingenuity has beamed back to NASA so far “tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” Bob Balaram, Ingenuity’s chief engineer, said in a NASA press release.
“We have two flights of Mars under our belts,” he added, “which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”
-NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 22, 2021
The data “looks good on altitude, lateral motion, all the turns and landing,” Bobby Braun, director of planetary science at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Twitter. “Another great flight.”
Source: Business Insider