As anticipated, NASA recently performed a second flight involving its Ingenuity helicopter, which arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover. The second flight was just as successful as the first, and now the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is back with details about its third planned flight involving the tiny helicopter. This time, Ingenuity will make a 330-foot trip.
The Ingenuity helicopter looks like a small drone; it is a demonstration of technology and marks a new milestone for NASA as the first time an aerial vehicle has been operated on another planet. NASA explained that there are several challenges when it comes to flying a helicopter on Mars, the least important of which is the planet’s extremely thin atmosphere.
Despite these potential problems, Ingenuity’s first flight was a success – one that was also very modest, giving the team a chance to collect data about the helicopter and its performance. The second flight took place later this week, and now the space agency says it will make a third flight on Sunday, April 25.
This time, NASA will push Ingenuity to a speed of about 4.5 MPH at an altitude of 16 feet; the planned flight will involve the helicopter traveling a distance of 330 feet round trip. Anxious audience can keep an eye on the flight details – hopefully on their third success – on Sunday night, according to JPL.
Presumably, a successful third flight will lead to a fourth flight, giving NASA a chance to collect as much data as possible. Ingenuity has no mission of its own apart from flying, but its achievements will pave the way for potential future aircraft sent to collect data on the Martian environment.