We recently wrote about how NASA Perseverance left the first test tube containing a rock sample on Martian soil. This is the backup strategy for the Mars Sample Return mission which should bring the samples back to Earth in 2033. Just the latest changes to this mission have provided for the use of two drones similar to NASA Ingenuity. This means the small helicopter currently on Mars it is not “alone” an experiment to understand how resistant the technologies used are but the data collected will also be useful in the future.
In order to maintain its operational efficiency and face new challenges, a software update has been installed on NASA Ingenuity to allow it to fly even on land that is not flat and to automatically identify new landing sites. A further step forward for a system conceived as a low-cost technology demonstrator (85 million dollars) which is proving to be much more effective and important than expected. About six days ago the 37th flight to Mars which allowed him to approach NASA Perseverance. Here are the latest news.
NASA Ingenuity has completed the 37th flight to Mars
As reported from JPLthe drone was able to successfully complete the 37th flight (on December 17) covering a horizontal distance of 62 meters. The latter, despite being less than the 110 meters covered during the 36th flight, was a movement in a single direction unlike the previous one where the drone reached halfway and then returned to the starting point (as expected from JPL plans).
According to flight log the maximum quota was equal to 10 meters with a maximum speed of 3 m/s and a duration of 55.2″. As can be read, airfield X was then abandoned to move to airfield Y. The software update worked correctly and this should allow for greater operational autonomy for NASA Ingenuity reducing the risks during landing.
Currently the martian drone it covered a total of 7.579 km with a maximum altitude of 14 meters (during the 35th flight) with a maximum speed of 5.5 m/s (equal to 19.8 km/h) and flying for 61.8 minutes. Compared to the 600 meters that separated NASA Ingenuity and NASA Perseverance during the past few days, with the last flight the distance dropped to around 400 meters.