NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Flies Faster, Farther on Third Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter can be seen hovering during its third flight on April 25, 2021, as seen by the left Navigation Camera aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The craft’s April 25 flight was conducted at speeds and distances beyond what had ever been previously demonstrated, even in testing on Earth.


WRIGHT BROTHERS FIELD, Mars (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther on Sunday, April 25, 2021 than in any tests it went through on Earth. The helicopter took off at 1:31 a.m. EDT (4:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) – the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), almost half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second).

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We’re Getting Ready for Ingenuity’s Second Flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured this shot as it hovered over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. It used its navigation camera, which autonomously tracks the ground during flight. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Written by MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

With the first flight of Ingenuity a success, we’re looking toward our second taking place on April 22, which is the 18th of the 30 sols (Martian days) of our flight test window.

For this second flight test at “Wright Brothers Field,” we are targeting a takeoff time for 5:30 a.m. EDT (2:30 a.m. PDT), or 12:30 p.m. Local Mean Solar Time. But we’re looking to go a little bigger this time. On the first flight, Ingenuity hovered 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface. This time around, we plan to trying climbing to 16 feet (5 meters) in this flight test. Then, after the helicopter hovers briefly, it will go into a slight tilt and move sideways for 7 feet (2 meters). Then Ingenuity will come to a stop, hover in place, and make turns to point its color camera in different directions before heading back to the center of the airfield to land. Of course, all of this is done autonomously, based on commands we sent to Perseverance to relay to Ingenuity the night before.

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NASA’s Mars Helicopter to Make First Flight Attempt Sunday

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter can be seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rover’s rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021, the 44th Martian day, or sol of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is two days away from making humanity’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. If all proceeds as planned, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is expected to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11, at 12:30 p.m. local Mars solar time (10:54 p.m. EDT, 7:54 p.m. PDT), hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds.

Mission control specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California expect to receive the first data from the first flight attempt the following morning at around 4:15 a.m. EDT (1:15 a.m. PDT). NASA TV will air live coverage of the team as they receive the data, with commentary beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT (12:30 a.m. PDT).

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