Mars helicopter made longest flight to date


On Friday, the American space agency released spectacular images of the longest and fastest flight of the Mars helicopter “Ingenuity”. At speeds of up to 5.5 meters per second, the plane flew a distance of 704 meters and filmed the surface of the red planet from about 10 meters above the ground (video above).

The black and white photos were taken on April 8 during the 25th flight of “Ingenuity”., NASA reports. “During the record-breaking flight, Ingenuity’s downward-facing navigation camera gave us a breathtaking sense of what it would be like to glide 10 meters above the surface of Mars at 12 miles per hour,” explains Teddy Tzanetos, leader of the Ingenuity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Accelerated to top speed in three seconds
The video clip starts about a second after the start. After reaching a height of ten meters, the helicopter flies to the southwest and accelerates to its top speed in just under three seconds. “Ingenuity” first flies over a group of sand waves and then – about the middle of the video – several rock formations. Eventually, relatively flat and featureless terrain will appear under the plane, providing a good landing spot. According to NASA, the record flight lasted exactly 161.3 seconds.

Rotors spin extremely fast
The helicopter has to endure extreme conditions on the Red Planet: at night it can be minus 90 degrees cold, which could easily mean the death penalty for batteries and electronics. Because of the thin atmosphere, which is about one percent as dense as Earth’s, Ingenuity’s rotors must accelerate to 2537 rpm — many times that of Earth’s helicopters, about the frequency of hummingbirds’ wing beats. “Ingenuity” (photo below) gets the energy for this from its solar battery.

“Ingenuity” had arrived aboard the rover “Perseverance” (endurance), which landed on the red planet in February 2021 – after 203 flying days and traveling 472 million kilometers – with a risky maneuver in a dry Martian lake called Jezero Crater.

Source: Krone


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