For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Continuing its astounding first in flight foray on another world NASA’s history making Ingenuity Helicopter successfully completed its 7th test flight on the Red Planet last week and with “no anomalies” unlike the prior flight three weeks earlier – while landing again at a new airfield on its 2nd operational flight transitioning to its new expanded role supporting the Perseverance rover mothership as an airborne science scout searching for science targets for the six wheeled robot.
The Mars Chopper handlers confirmed the successful outcome of the 7th flight conducted on June 8 via a brief tweet
“Another successful flight. #MarsHelicopter completed its 7th flight and second within its operations demo phase. It flew for 62.8 seconds and traveled ~106 meters south to a new landing spot. Ingenuity also took this black-and-white navigation photo during flight,” the NASA JPL team tweeted.
Another successful flight ?#MarsHelicopter completed its 7th flight and second within its operations demo phase. It flew for 62.8 seconds and traveled ~106 meters south to a new landing spot. Ingenuity also took this black-and-white navigation photo during flight. pic.twitter.com/amluVq9wbb
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) June 8, 2021
Ingenuity flew for a total of just over one minutes at 62.8 seconds and traveled about another 106 meters south – as the team had planned.
This 7th flight is the first one since the rather harrowing 6th test flight on May 22 that was challenging beyond anything planned for Ingenuity when it ‘muscled through’ an in-flight anomaly of swinging, pitching and rolling oscillations of some 20 degrees to survive its demanding flight on the Red Planet and ultimately landed safely.
At that time the team said they would use the lessons learned and make modifications to be ready to press on with reams of unforeseen knowledge gained – under the motto ‘Just Keep Flying’.
Flight 7 went off without a hitch and the chopper is heathy – setting up a potential 8th flight at some point perhaps prior to the upcoming conjunction period when no communications with Earth will be possible for about 3 weeks with any of the multiple spacecraft orbiting, exploring and roving the Red Planet
From a helicopter team member: "No anomalies in flight 7, Ingenuity is healthy!"
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) June 9, 2021
The chopper also touched down again at another new ‘air field’ as planned – the fourth altogether and likely unofficially dubbed ‘Air Field D.’
“This will mark the second time the helicopter will land at an airfield that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight,” the NASA JPL team wrote in a preflight update.
“Instead, the Ingenuity team is relying on imagery collected by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that suggests this new base of operations is relatively flat and has few surface obstructions.”
Beyond that there were very few details release by the team.
Hopefully further updates will be available soon.
To date Ingenuity has completed 7 history making test flights on Mars proving that flying is possible on the Red Planet despite the ultra thin atmosphere.
The challenges of flying are incredible because the fully autonomous flight is carried out in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere with few air molecules amounting to less than 1% as dense as Earth’s– approximately equivalent to 3 times the height of Mount Everest – and under frigid Antarctica-like conditions of minus 90 C (Minus 130 F).
Perseverance touched down at Octavia E. Butler Landing with Ingenuity attached to its belly on Feb. 18, 2021. The helicopter was deployed to the surface of Jezero Crater on April 3.
Since then Ingenuity has far surpassed all prelaunch objectives and far outstripped checkouts during testing on Earth while making history as humanity’s first aircraft to fly beyond Earth during the 1st test flight on April 19.
The solar powered Ingenuity helicopter is a technology demonstration experiment aimed at attempting and demonstrating the first flight on Mars.
The four legged Ingenuity has a mass of about 4.0 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and stands 1.6 feet or 19 inches (0.49 meters) high.
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Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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