A 161-second helicopter tour of the terrain of Mars • The Register

Video On Friday, NASA released images of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flying farther and faster than ever before.

The movie was recorded during Ingenuity’s 25th flight on April 8 when it flew 704 meters at a speed of up to 5.5 meters per second.

In the sped-up images below, the rover climbs 10 meters, heads southwest, accelerates to top speed in less than three seconds, and flies over Martian sand waves and rocky fields before landing on a relatively flat terrain.

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The navigation camera turns off when the rotorcraft is within a meter of landing to prevent dust from entering the navigation system.

The flights are designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which sends commands to the Perseverance Mars rover, which in turn relays them to Ingenuity. Ingenuity uses onboard sensors to provide real-time data to its own main flight computer and navigation processor, which then allow it to react in real time.

On April 19, 2021, Ingenuity became the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. It now has 28 flights under its belt, which means it has completed three flights since the April 8 footage was recorded, but since the videos take longer to return from Mars than the images or other data, one can understand the delay in do the information. public. The Jezero Crater that Ingenuity landed in in 2021 is about 505 million kilometers (314 million miles) away.

Perseverance can achieve transmission speeds of up to 2 Mb/s to its superior orbiters, which then transmit that data back to Earth at between 500 Kb/s and around 3 Mb/s, depending on the relative position between Mars and Earth.

NASA has been busy this month reestablishing the connection between perseverance and ingenuity.

The two spacecraft lost communication between May 3 and 5 due to dust covering the helicopter’s solar panels, preventing the batteries from charging. The field-programmable gate array (FPGA) that manages Ingenuity’s operational state was then turned off, as were its heaters. When it came back online, its clocks had been reset, which is not a good thing for a number of reasons, one of which is that the FPGA manages the heaters that protect the electronics from the frigid Martian night temperatures.

NASA heeded a warning about future performance:

JPL Ingenuity team leader Teddy Tzanetos wrote a status update on Friday promising that Ingenuity Flight 29 may occur in the next few sols or Martian days, “assuming winter restart activities are nominally completed.”

Tzanetos also detailed how extraordinary it is that this helicopter not only continues to function, but provides humans with that 161.3 seconds of footage.

“After hundreds of sols and dozens of flights beyond the originally planned five flights, the solar-powered helicopter is in uncharted territory. We are now operating well beyond the limits of our original design,” Tzanetos said. ®

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