NASA Mars helicopter for tricky start with first flight from 2022

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The Ingenuity helicopter will land in a familiar-looking location. It took a look at its future landing zone during Flight 9.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series about the red planet.

It’s a New Year on Earth, and there’s a lot to expect on Mars in 2022 as well. NASAs The Ingenuity helicopter is preparing for its first flight of the year, which will be its 19th flight overall. The Ingenuity team believes that the terrain it is sitting on could make it difficult to get started.

Flight 19 should take place on Friday at the earliest. The remarkable rotary-wing aircraft long outlived its expected five-flight life and continues to perform well in the harsh conditions of Jezero Crater.

Every flight on Mars is a small miracle. the the first flight of the chopper proved that it can work. The following flights tested his skills. The latest flights were carried out by its companion rover Perseverance. “The current mission objective is to reach the Jezero Delta to assist the Perseverance rover with route planning and scientific discovery.” Ingenuity pilot Martin Cacan wrote in a status update on Tuesday.

Flight 19, which is supposed to last around 100 seconds, will not necessarily be easy. “The flight, while short, has a difficult start due to the characterless sandy terrain the helicopter is currently sitting on,” wrote Cacan. Ingenuity uses a navigation camera to track its location. The terrain raised some warnings during the landing process for Flight 18, but the team hopes that the Ingenuity parameter update will allow for a clean ascent.

Ingenuity and persistence have proven to be real pals since landing on Mars in early 2021. The new year will be filled with exploration and scientific study as the rover rolls on and collects rock samples and the helicopter plays scout from the air.

To get an idea of ​​what Ingenuity looks like when it hovers over Mars, take a look this funny NASA video from flight 13.

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