clevernessFlying days are extended again.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced today (March 15) that the Martian miniature helicopter now has clearance to continue flying until at least September. As part of this extension, Ingenuity will also include some special upgrades that will allow the 4 lb (1.8 kg) drone to make bolder flights in support of the persevering rover mission it landed with in February 2021.
“I remember thinking when this all started, we’d be lucky if we had three [flight] Fortunately, they got five. Now, at the rate we’re going, I’ll need a second [log]The book ‘Havard Gripp, the consummate chief pilot, said in a JPL Statement.
Related: One year later, the innovative helicopter is still going strong on Mars
When creativity made its first temporary leap On April 19, 2021It was hailed not only as the first interplanetary flight but as concrete evidence that it is possible for an aircraft to fly through the thin atmosphere of Mars. (Wind tunnel testing and modeling suggested it was possible, but a realistic Mars flight sealed the deal.)
That first test flight took just 39.1 seconds, and in the months since, Ingenuity has proven itself well beyond the initial plan that saw the craft make five flights. now with 21 flights Completed as of last week, Ingenuity has flown for a total of 38 minutes and traveled 2.9 miles (4.6 kilometers).
The new Ingenuity Expanded Mission will be tasked with helping Persevere in Exploring the remains of the River Delta Inside Jezero Crater on the Red Planet, where the rover landed and where scientists hope to discover signs of ancient microscopic life. But to get there, Ingenuity will need to complete a complex flight plan that includes new software upgrades.
The innovation team has continued to adapt to support the helicopter’s ongoing mission, JPL’s chief creative officer Teddy Tzanitos noted in the same statement. Tzanitos said team members are “making upgrades to our flight program geared toward improving operational flexibility and flight safety.”
For example, a new software update now releases Ingenuity from its previous 50-foot (15-meter) flight ceiling, which “could result in incremental increases in both air speed and range” on future flights, the statement said. Other upgrades will allow Ingenuity to adjust wind speed, or its position relative to the texture of the terrain underneath.
JPL noted that “future software upgrades may include adding terrain elevation maps to the navigation filter, and the ability to avoid landing hazards.” These dynamic flight features may be essential to continuing Ingenuity’s track record of success, given that the Jezero Delta features cliffs, rocks, sand traps, and other obstacles.
Ingenuity Flight 22, expected no later than March 19, will see the plane fly nearly a quarter of a mile (1,150 feet or 350 metres), including a sharp turn in midair to maneuver around a large hill. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has stated that at least two or three more flights are needed after that to reach the delta.
After it touches on creativity in the delta, it will help engineers choose the dry river channel (of two) to direct perseverance operations, and possibly find scientific targets as well.
And the Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated that if all goes well, the helicopter may be tasked with monitoring geological features that are inaccessible to perseverance on Earth. It may also serve to search for landing areas and buffer zones for a future sample return mission planned for capture.
One of the main goals of the Perseverance mission is to collect samples of Martian material for future study on Earth. The rover currently has eight samples in the caching system is ready for future deposit; The hope is that a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency will return the bunkers to Earth as soon as possible in 2031.
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