Wednesday, October 4

After surviving an emergency landing, the helicopter flew again on the red planet.

The Ingenuity helicopter, launched by NASA, had a remarkable performance on its most recent trip to Mars, as measured by the time it took to ascend to 5 meters above the liquid surface and return to Earth.

Ingenuity has flown for almost three minutes in its past flights, gliding across rugged terrain and reaching as far as 700 meters. After arriving on Mars over two years ago during the Perseverance mission, the helicopter is considered one of NASA’s most significant exploration achievements.

Ingenuity’s mission was a success, with only five short flights made. However, since its first test flight in April 2021, the helicopter has exceeded all expectations by flying over 50 different sorties across Mars and enduring long and dark winters.

Despite its brief appearance, Ingenuity’s most recent flight on August 3 was of significant importance as the helicopter made an emergency landing after aborting a scheduled flight of 136 seconds in late July.


Following the flight, the helicopter’s operators at NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory concluded that the premature landing was caused by insufficient data from Ingenuity’ s navigation camera, which failed to match data sent back and forth from the vehicle’s inertial measurement unit; consequently, its on-board computer expected to see one thing but actually saw another.

“We have implemented a program named ‘LAND_NOW’ since the first flight to ensure that the helicopter can be on the surface as quickly as possible in case of several off-nominal events,” said Teddy Tzanetos, team lead emeritus for Ingenuity.

The helicopter’s mission on Thursday was to obtain more information about the circumstances that caused the previous flight to end prematurely. Tzanetos stated that the team is optimistic that Ingenuity can resume challenging missions in the near future after the latest flight.

The helicopter’s ability to take a quick snapshot of the Martian landscape, with Perseverance at the top, was one of several advantages of this short mission.

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