NASA’s Mars helicopter lands in place it had never seen before
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its seventh flight on Mars and touched down in a new territory.
The 4-pound helicopter lifted off the Martian surface Sunday and flew to a new area about 350 feet south from its previous location.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) says the flight lasted nearly 63 seconds.
America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.
The flight marked the second time Ingenuity landed at a new site that it did not previously survey with its own navigation cameras. Instead, NASA relied on images of the new airfield taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The orbiter’s pictures suggested that the new location is relatively flat and should be safe for Ingenuity to land.
“Another successful flight,” NASA’s JPL tweeted Monday.
“#MarsHelicopter completed its 7th flight and second within its operations demo phase,” the Ingenuity team wrote.
The chopper’s success this week comes after it encountered an “in-flight anomaly” during its sixth flight attempt late last month.
Ingenuity suffered a glitch toward the end of its 490-foot scouting mission that caused the helicopter to pitch side to side as it flew. The small helicopter was able to stabilize itself and touched down within 16 feet of the intended landing location.
Ingenuity made history in April by carrying out the first-ever controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.
Getting the helicopter off the ground is challenging, as Mars’s gravity is about one-third that of Earth’s and its atmosphere is about 1 percent the density of Earth at its surface.
NASA originally planned to fly Ingenuity for five flights to prove controlled flight is possible on the red planet, but the mission has gone so well that researchers are using the helicopter to explore the planet from the air and aid in the Perseverance mission.
The Perseverance rover is on a two-year mission to roam Mars in search of signs of ancient life.