Ingenuity ‘s 25th Mars flight occurred on April 8. NASA only expected to conduct five test flights.
NASA has released the video of the Ingenuity helicopter’s fastest flight on Mars .
Covering a distance of 704 meters at a speed of 5.5 meters per second, it was the longest and fastest helicopter flight to date on the Red Planet.
The images were captured by Ingenuity ‘s black-and-white navigation camera on its 25th flight on April 8.
The first frame of the video clip begins approximately one second after the flight. After reaching an altitude of 10 meters, the helicopter heads southwest, accelerating to its maximum speed in less than three seconds. The helicopter first flies over a group of sand waves and then, about halfway through the video, several rock fields. Finally, relatively flat and featureless terrain appears below, providing a good place to land. The 161.3-second flight video was sped up about five times, reducing it to less than 35 seconds.
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Ingenuity is currently preparing for its 29th flight, according to a NASA press release.
Ingenuity flights are autonomous. “Pilots” at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) plan them on Earth and send commands to the Perseverance rover, which then relays those commands to the helicopter. During a flight, onboard sensors—the navigation camera, an inertial measurement unit, and a laser rangefinder—provide real-time data to Ingenuity’s main flight computer and navigation processor, which guide the helicopter in flight. This allows Ingenuity to react to the landscape as you execute your commands.
Mission controllers recently lost communication with Ingenuity after the helicopter went into a low power state. Now that the helicopter is back in touch and getting adequate power from its solar panel to charge its six lithium-ion batteries, the team looks forward to its next flight to Mars.