The Success of NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Paves Way for Bigger Aircrafts
Although the <a href=”https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-ingenuity-mars-helicopter-prepares-for-first-flight”>NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter was initially designed to fly only five times</a>, its series of successful missions means that it will be getting more opportunities to explore the red planet.
On June 21, the Ingenuity helicopter flew for the eighth time on Mars and was able to cover a distance of 160 meters. The trip lasted 77.4 seconds before landing at a new site which is a big milestone considering Mars’s thin atmosphere.
These flights will continue during the coming months to test how the helicopter can work in parallel with the Perseverance rover. The goal of these trials will be to push the limits of the helicopter in hopes of maximizing flight distance and time. According to Teddy Tzanetos of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the team is aiming for 1 kilometer flights that last up to 3 minutes.
<img class=”wp-image-10555 size-full” src=”https://vherald.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Ingenuity-helicopter.jpg” alt=”Ingenuity helicopter” width=”985″ height=”554″ /> Image Credit: NASA
The Ingenuity helicopter will help capture images in areas such as Seitah, where the terrain is too rough for the rover to traverse. These images can then be used to create terrain maps that can help guide the Perseverance rover on the ground.
There are also plans to develop a more powerful machine named The Mars Science Helicopter. It is expected to feature six rotors and have a mass of 30 kilograms which is more than 16 times that of Ingenuity. The Mars Science Helicopter would be capable of flying up to 10 kilometers and carry a maximum load of 5 kilograms. This would help exploring special regions that would have been otherwise difficult to reach without contamination. One such area is the Mawrth Vallis which is an ancient water outflow channel and among the oldest valleys on Mars.
The success of the Ingenuity helicopter means that we could now have a unique viewpoint on Mars that adds another dimension to space exploration.
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