The flight was just a short repositioning jump, covering 47 meters in 69.5 seconds at a maximum height of 10 meters.
But it was an important flight that helped reposition Ingenuity to leave the Seitah region of Lake Jezero Crater on its way to the ancient river delta, where the helicopter will work in tandem with NASA’s Perseverance rover, hunting for life and collecting samples.
On Sunday, the helicopter took off for the first time at a different time of day – at 09:30 am local solar mean time (LMST), and not at the standard 10 am LMST.
Since March 10, Ingenuity has been making its way through the Seitah region, a region full of dangers for small helicopters – namely, terrain filled with rocks and dunes that can cause the craft to roll over on landing. The Perseverance rover, on the other hand, uses a circular route to avoid the uneven terrain of Mars).
The first three flights in this region went smoothly, but the Ingenuity team had a difficult decision to make about the last leg of the journey, as they had three options, each of which presented different challenges.
The team ended up opting for a flight plan that included a tiny jump on Sunday that put Ingenuity in a comfortable position for the final flight from Seitah, team members explained in a blog post on Tuesday (April 5).
However, this flight plan required Ingenuity to take off 30 minutes earlier than usual. Because the helicopter uses its solar-powered batteries for nighttime heating, it “wakes up” with empty batteries, which are replenished as the sun rises in the morning. Taking off early in the day means Ingenuity had less time to recharge before flying, increasing the risk.
But Ingenuity has demonstrated the ability to fly, so the helicopter is currently preparing to exit the Seitah region, and flight instructions have already been transmitted to Mars.
Ingenuity has made 23 more flights since its first flight on April 19, 2021, covering a total distance of 5170 meters.
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