Adding a new chapter of success, the Ingenuity helicopter has completed its 14th test flight on Mars. Ingenuity was developed by NASA. The agency sent it to Mars along with the Perseverance rover. The helicopter has demonstrated the ability to fly in the thin Martian atmosphere. The latest test flight was different from the previous flights. It flew in summer conditions. This was the first flight after the solar conjunction. The communication between Earth stations and Martian probes was suspended for two weeks due to solar conjunction. It happens every two years when Mars and Earth are on two opposite sides of the Sun. The corona of the Sun disrupts interplanetary communications.
According to NASA, Ingenuity was initially designed to fly only five times in the thin atmosphere of the Red Planet. However, the agency has exceeded its mission. It wants to test the stretchability of the mini helicopter’s technology. It arrived at the planet in February, attached to the belly of Perseverance. Ingenuity is the only object to fly on another planet. The 14th flight was a short hop. It took place on October 24 at Jezero Crater. NASA said that the helicopter executed 2,700 revolutions per minute flight. This proves that the helicopter can fly several more times in the coming months when Mars experiences seasonal changes. The 14th test flight saw Ingenuity flying for 23 seconds. It touched a peak altitude of 5 meters. The sideways translation of the helicopter was about two meters.
NASA said that this was the first time when the helicopter recorded black-and-white navigation camera images. The agency said that higher rpm settings confirm that it can fly in lower atmospheric densities. The team could increase the rpm if required during future test flights. Ingenuity during the 13th test flight provided a 3D view of a rock-covered mound. The helicopter carries no science instruments other than cameras. Its sole mission is to conduct the flight in a thin atmosphere, demonstrating new technology to revisit humans’ Martian approach. NASA said that data gathered by Ingenuity will benefit in planning future missions by adding the aerial dimension.