NASA's Perseverance captures challenging flight by Mars Helicopter

Fri, 19 Nov 2021 01:02:08 GMT
Space Daily

Pasadena CA (JPL) Nov 19, 2021 Video footage from NASA's Perseverance Mars rover of the Ingenuity...

Video footage from NASA's Perseverance Mars rover of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter's 13th flight on Sept. 4 provides the most detailed look yet of the rotorcraft in action.

Ingenuity is currently prepping for its 16th flight, scheduled to take place no earlier than Saturday, Nov. 20, but the 160.5-second Flight 13 stands out as one of Ingenuity's most complicated.

During takeoff, Ingenuity kicks up a small plume of dust that the right camera, or "Eye," captures moving to the right of the helicopter during ascent.

The team targeted a different landing spot - about 39 feet from takeoff - to avoid a ripple of sand it landed on at the completion of Flight 12.

Though the view from Mastcam-Z's left eye shows less of the helicopter and more of Mars than the right, the wide angle provides a glimpse of the unique way that the Ingenuity team programmed the flight to ensure success.

"Our flight simulations indicated that this little 'breather' would help the helicopter keep track of its heading in spite of the significant terrain variations. It does the same on the way back. It's awesome to actually get to see this occur, and it reinforces the accuracy of our modeling and our understanding of how to best operate Ingenuity."

Ingenuity went quiet in October, along with NASA's other Mars spacecraft during Mars solar conjunction, when the Red Planet and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun, precluding most communications.

Following conjunction, Ingenuity performed a short experimental flight test before undertaking Flight 15, which began the multi-flight journey back to the vicinity of "Wright Brothers Field," its starting point back in April.

With Flight 15, Ingenuity began the journey back towards "Wright Brothers Field" at "Octavia E. Butler Landing," the site where Perseverance touched down with Ingenuity in February.

After reviewing the data from Flight 15, the Ingenuity team is prepared to attempt our Flight 16 no earlier than Thursday, Nov. 18.