Ingenuity Mars Helicopter completes Flight 39 on the Red Planet
Gif Credit: Twitter (@NASAJPL)
NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which accompanies the agency's Perseverance rover on the Red Planet, recently completed its 39th flight in the Martian atmosphere.
During Flight 39, the tiny helicopter travelled 460 feet (140.25 meters) at an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) for about 79 seconds, before coming back to its original take-off location.
This was the second flight of the year for Ingenuity, which took to the Martian air for the first time in April 2021. Part of the Mars 2020 mission, the tiny aircraft has exceeded its anticipated life span on Mars.
#MarsHelicopter keeps exploring the Martian skies!Ingenuity recently completed Flight 39. The rotorcraft stayed aloft for about 79 seconds, traveling 460 feet (140.25 meters) at an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) and returning to its original take-off location. pic.twitter.com/vnKq2uH4n2— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) January 12, 2023
Inspired by the success of Ingenuity, NASA has decided to send two similar but advanced helicopters to pick up additional samples stashed on the Martian surface by the Perseverance rover and transport them to NASA's Sample Retrieval Lander for return to Earth. The Sample Recovery Helicopters would be newly equipped with wheels to traverse along the ground in short distances, and grabber arms to secure tubes during flight.
While the Perseverance rover is planned as the primary method of delivering samples to the Sample Retrieval Lander, the two helicopters will serve as another method of retrieving alternate samples which are currently being cached at the 'Three Forks' region of Mars' Jezero Crater, if the rover becomes unable to deliver its onboard samples.
The Sample Recovery Helicopters are planned to launch in 2028 and are expected to arrive on the Martian surface in 2030. They will land near the Perseverance's landing site in Jezero Crater.
Scientists are currently looking into other possible applications of helicopters in science and exploration after the Mars Sample Return mission is finished.