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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter completes landmark ninth test flight on Mars

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

NASA’s helicopter Ingenuity just completed its ninth test flight on Mars with flying colors, sailing faster and further than it ever has before. On July 5, Ingenuity flew for 166.4 seconds, long enough to traverse a total distance of 2,050 feet. Ingenuity even broke its speed record by clocking in at 15 feet per second, the equivalent of a brisk run, reports Eric Berger for Ars Technica.

The flight was a landmark for Ingenuity. Previously, the gravity defying gizmo has stayed close to its mothership, NASA’s Perseverance rover, flying a short distance ahead then waiting for the heftier landbound companion to catch up.

In its ninth flight, Ingenuity leveled up from an accompaniment role to a solo mission. It flew over the sandy Séítah terrain, where no rover has gone— nor can go—before. Séítah translates to “amidst the sand” in the Navajo language Diné Bizaad, and the terrain is exactly as its name describes, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. The undulating sands and high slopes covering this stretch of land would hamper any wheeled vehicle daring to cross—but not a flying one.


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  • The title was changed to NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter completes landmark ninth test flight on Mars


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Ingenuity’s ninth flight provided imagery that will help the Perseverance rover team develop its science plan going forward.

Images snapped on July 5 by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on its ambitious ninth flight have offered scientists and engineers working with the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover an unprecedented opportunity to scout out the road ahead. Ingenuity provided new insight into where different rock layers begin and end, each layer serving as a time capsule for how conditions in the ancient climate changed at this location.

The flight also revealed obstacles the rover may have to drive around as it explores Jezero Crater. During the flight – designed to test the helicopter’s ability to serve as an aerial scout – Ingenuity soared over a dune field nicknamed “Séítah.” Perseverance is making a detour south around those dunes, which would be too risky for the six-wheeled rover to try crossing.


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Looks like the little guy is doing a good job, I can see drones being used on a lot more Mars rover missions in the future.  

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