NASA’s Mars helicopter soars increased, longer on 2nd flight

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The shadow of NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity is seen throughout its second flight, captured by its black-and-white navigation digital camera April 22, 2021.
Picture Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/by way of REUTERS

Cape Canaveral, Florida: NASA’s little Mars helicopter aced its second check flight Thursday, hovering even increased and longer than earlier than.

The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) chopper, named Ingenuity, hovered longer and in addition flew aspect to aspect this time, in response to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. It achieved the meant altitude of 16 ft (5 meters) and even accelerated sideways 7 ft (2 meters).

This hop lasted 52 seconds, 13 seconds longer than the primary one.

“Go large or go residence!” JPL tweeted in asserting the Earth Day information.

The success got here simply three days after Ingenuity made the primary powered flight by an plane on one other planet. The helicopter carried a little bit of wing material from the Wright Flyer that made comparable historical past at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

Flight controllers needed to wait 4 hours earlier than studying Thursday’s final result. Prefer it did throughout Monday’s 10-foot-high (3-meter-high) hop, the helicopter despatched again a black and white picture displaying its shadow in opposition to the dusty, rock-strewn floor now referred to as Wright Brothers Area.

“It sounds easy, however there are lots of unknowns relating to easy methods to fly a helicopter on Mars,” Ingenuity’s chief pilot, Havard Grip, mentioned from JPL in an announcement. “That is why we’re right here – to make these unknowns recognized.”

One of many challenges is the planet’s extraordinarily skinny environment – 1% that of Earth’s.

Mars Ingenuity helicopter
The Mars Ingenuity helicopter hovers above the floor of the planet throughout its second flight on Thursday, April 22, 2021.
Picture Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS by way of AP

NASA plans as much as three extra check flights within the subsequent 1 1/2 weeks, venturing increased every time with extra difficult acrobatics. Ingenuity hitched a experience to Mars on the rover Perseverance, which photographed the proceedings from greater than 200 ft (64 meters) away. The rover workforce allotted one month for the $85 million tech demo” The clock began ticking when Ingenuity was launched from Perseverance’s stomach on April 3.

“We’ve two flights of Mars beneath our belts, which implies that there’s nonetheless so much to study throughout this month of Ingenuity,” chief engineer Bob Balaram mentioned in an announcement.

Perseverance and Ingenuity arrived at Mars in mid-February, touchdown in an historic river delta following a 6 1/2-month flight.

As soon as Ingenuity’s flights are full, Perseverance will set off on its journey to search out any indicators of previous microscopic life. A robotic geologist, the rover will gather core samples of essentially the most engaging rocks and set them apart for pickup by a future spacecraft a decade from now.

In one other first, an experiment on the rover efficiently transformed Mars’ carbon-dioxide-rich environment into pure oxygen this week. 5 grams of oxygen was produced, in response to NASA, the equal of 10 minutes of respiratory for an astronaut. Massive-scale manufacturing at Mars might yield oxygen not just for air, but in addition rocket gas. Extra checks are deliberate over the following two years.

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