NASA has just revealed incredible new images from its Ingenuity helicopter on a record-breaking flight on the Red Planet last month.
The Mars helicopter Ingenuity video, which was taken on April 8 but posted on May 27, shows the small Red Planet helicopter as it flew a distance of 2,310 feet (704 meters) at a speed of 12 mph (19 kph), with a view of The sands of the Red Planet hum below.
“For our unprecedented flight, Ingenuity’s downward-facing navigation camera gave us an impressive sense of what it would feel like,” said Ingenuity team leader Teddy Tzanetos of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. . (opens in a new tab) Friday (May 27).
The footage goes back to Ingenuity Flight 25, when it flew faster and farther than ever before with a maximum altitude of 33 feet (10 meters), roughly the height equivalent of a three-story house.
Related: 1 year later, the Ingenuity helicopter is still going strong on Mars
Ingenuity sends its data to the Perseverance rover, which radios the information to a passing Mars orbiter. The data is then transmitted from Mars to NASA’s deep space radio antenna array on Earth.
Since videos are larger than images, it takes a while to send things over interplanetary networks, and operational data must come first on missions, which likely explains some of the delay in receiving images.
The nearly 30-second video clip begins about a second into the flight, JPL said. It shows the helicopter moving southwest to reach its maximum speed in the next three seconds.
“The helicopter first flies over a group of sand waves and then, about halfway through the video, several rock fields,” JPL said. “Finally, relatively flat and featureless terrain appears below, providing a good place to land.”
The total time of flight of 161.3 seconds was sped up five times in the images, JPL added. The navigation camera was also turned off before landing, as necessary, to prevent dust from interfering with the navigation system when the helicopter is about three feet (1 meter) from the surface.
Ingenuity is currently recovering from a dust-induced communications failure, but should be ready soon to attempt a 29th excursion on the surface, JPL added.
“Now that the helicopter is back in contact 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,” JPL said of Ingenuity.
The little helicopter has increased its initial five-flight manifest nearly six times and is on an extended mission as it accompanies the Perseverance search-for-life rover. Rover and helicopter landed together in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.