NASA Ingenuity helicopter completed its seventh successful flight on Mars

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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has made its seventh successful flight on Mars, this time landing in an airfield that had only previously been seen by a Mars orbiter.

The 4-pound helicopter made its successful journey on June 6, more than two weeks after its last flight. 

‘Another successful flight,’ NASA JPL tweeted. 

The miniature helicopter flew for 62.8 seconds, traveling 348ft south before settling down in a new airfield.

The drone also took a black-and-white photo during its flight.

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter made its seventh successful flight on Mars, this time landing in an airfield that had only previously been seen by a Mars orbiter

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter made its seventh successful flight on Mars, this time landing in an airfield that had only previously been seen by a Mars orbiter

The 4-pound helicopter made its successful journey on June 6, more than two weeks after its last flight

The 4-pound helicopter made its successful journey on June 6, more than two weeks after its last flight

INGENUITY: FIRST SEVEN FLIGHTS ON MARS

Flight one: April 19, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 9.8ft, stationary hover and a landing 

Flight two: April 22, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 16ft, hover, then shift westward for 14ft before returning and landing 

Flight three: April 25, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 16ft, hover, shift northwards for 328ft at an airspeed of 2 m/s before returning to land

Flight four: April 30, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 16ft, hover, shift southwards 873ft at 3.5m/s before returning to land 

Flight five: May 7, 2021 with a vertical takeoff up to 33ft, hover, shift southwards 423ft at 3.5 m/s before landing at that new location

Flight six: May 22, 2021 with a vertical takeoff of 33ft, hover, shift southwest 492ft at 9mph, travel 49ft south, travel 164ft before returning to land  

This airfield, previously observed by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, is the fourth it has landed on since the Perseverance rover landed on the Red Planet on February 18.

On May 22, Ingenuity’s sixth flight took some unwanted turns, resulting in an ‘unexpected motion’ due to an ‘image processing issue.’ 

At the time, NASA said the helicopter ‘landed safely and is ready to fly again.’ 

Ingenuity first deployed from Perseverance on April 3, starting a 30-day clock to make its first powered flight. 

Ingenuity, which is just 18-inches tall, made its first flight on April 19, 2021, making history as the first powered controlled flight on another planet.

Since then it has completed six successful flights, the first five as part of a ‘technical demonstration’ to prove something could fly on Mars.

The sixth and seventh flights are part of an extended mission support role, helping Perseverance.  

While airborne, Ingenuity keeps track of its motion using an onboard inertial measurement unit (IMU) – that tracks acceleration and rotation rates.

By integrating this information over time, it is possible to estimate where it is, how fast it is moving, and how it is oriented in space.

The onboard control system reacts to the estimated motions by adjusting control inputs rapidly – at a rate of 500 times per second.  

The $2.7 billion Perseverance is currently heading south from its landing spot on the Jezero Crater, where it landed 107 sols (Martian days) ago, on February 18. 

So far, it has driven 0.32 miles within the crater, NASA said, where it is performing a number of tasks, including searching for evidence of ancient life.  

Perseverance is currently heading south from its landing spot on the Jezero Crater, where it landed 107 sols (Martian days) ago. So far, it has driven 0.32 miles within the crater

Perseverance is currently heading south from its landing spot on the Jezero Crater, where it landed 107 sols (Martian days) ago. So far, it has driven 0.32 miles within the crater

At this point, it’s unclear how many more times Ingenuity, which cost $85 million to build and operate, will fly. 

Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said “We’re in a kind of see-how-it-goes phase,” in a recent press briefing, according to Insider.  

Despite encountering an anomaly on its sixth flight, the helicopter landed within 16ft of the intended landing location and did so due to 'stability margins' within flight control

Despite encountering an anomaly on its sixth flight, the helicopter landed within 16ft of the intended landing location and did so due to ‘stability margins’ within flight control 

NASA MARS 2020: THE MISSION WILL SEE THE PERSEVERANCE ROVER AND INGENUITY HELICOPTER SEARCH FOR LIFE

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on Earth. 

Named Perseverance, the main car-sized rover is explore an ancient river delta within the Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600ft deep lake.

It is believed that the region hosted microbial life some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago and the rover will examine soil samples to hunt for evidence of the life.

Nasa's Mars 2020 rover (artist's impression) is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet

Nasa’s Mars 2020 rover (artist’s impression) is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet

The $2.5 billion (£1.95 billion) Mars 2020 spaceship launched on July 30 with the rover and helicopter inside – and landed successfully on February 18, 2021.

Perseverance landed inside the crater and will collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for further analysis.

A second mission will fly to the planet and return the samples, perhaps by the later 2020s in partnership with the European Space Agency.

This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA's 'sky-crane' system

This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA’s ‘sky-crane’ system

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