This is what the second flight of Marshelikopter Ingenuity looked like

From the perspective of Marsrover Perseverance and Ingenuity themselves.

Yesterday, Marshelicopter Ingenuity made its second flight on the red planet. And the flight was a success. The helicopter rose to a height of five meters and lingered for a moment. The helicopter then tilted slightly (about five degrees), so that the rotors could also – for the first time – make it move about two meters to the side.

The unknown
“The helicopter (then, ed.) Came to a stop (…) and turned to make the camera look in different directions,” says Ingenuity’s lead pilot Håvard Grip. “Then it went back to the heart of the airport (a piece of Mars chosen by NASA that is very flat and has few obstacles, ed.) To land. It sounds very simple, but when it comes to flying a helicopter on Mars, much is unknown. And that’s why we’re there – to make the unknown known. ”

The second flight followed the successful one first flight which took place last Monday. During that flight Ingenuity flew to a height of three meters. The helicopter hovered in the air for half a minute and then descended back to the Martian surface.

Images
As on the first flight, Mars rover Perseverance sat in the front row. The rover once again captured beautiful images of the helicopter in action.

“For the second flight, we took a slightly different approach with the zoom function on one of the cameras,” says Justin Maki, responsible for the camera and images that Perseverance takes during his Mars mission. “During the first flight, one of the cameras was fully zoomed in on the take-off and landing site. For the second flight, we let that camera zoom out a bit to create a wider field of view and capture more of the flight. ”

Shadow
Ingenuity herself was also busy photographing. Just like during the first flight, it photographed the Martian ground below. On the Martian surface we see the shadow of the four-legged helicopter.

Next test flights
Now that the second flight has also gone according to plan, NASA can start thinking about what else it wants the helicopter to do. In the coming weeks, the American space agency hopes to be able to conduct about three more test flights. The idea is that Ingenuity will go a little higher and further with each subsequent test flight.

Ingenuity took off late in the morning yesterday. The helicopter functions autonomously; Due to the great distance between Earth and Mars and the long time it takes to send and receive messages from Mars, it is impossible to control the helicopter from Earth. That is why the sequence of commands that the helicopter had to follow to make the second flight was sent to Mars the day before, after which Ingenuity followed the commands independently. Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS.

Ingenuity is a demonstration mission designed to find out if it is possible to fly on Mars. The first two flights did answer that question. But NASA hopes to collect even more data during subsequent flights to gain more insight into the challenges that a Marshelicopter faces and the possibilities that such a Marshelicopter offers for exploring the red planet. Because if everything goes according to plan, NASA would like to send even more helicopters to Mars in the future. They may be used to explore the Martian surface more closely or to – at a later stage, when people are also going to Mars – to move light charges on the Martian surface.

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