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70 Ingenuity flights – AstroSpace.it

70 Ingenuity flights – AstroSpace.it

In recent days, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed the success of the experiment The 70th flight of the Ingenuity helicopter to MarsWhich properly happened before the end of 2023, i.e. on December 22, 2023.

This is another important milestone for what we now know as the “record-breaking helicopter,” which was designed to perform just 5 flights as a technology demonstration, and found itself flying 14 times as many as expected in just over two years.

Now, Ingenuity is preparing to fly for the 71st time. The attempt is scheduled to take place today, January 6, 2023, when it must cover a distance of 358 meters in 125 seconds.

The seventieth flight

According to JPL, the 70th flight took place on December 22, 2023, during the mission's 1009th Martian day. The horizontal distance traveled was 260 metres, with a maximum height of 12 metres, and a speed of 3 m/s. The total duration was 132.9 seconds, entirely over Airfield Chi.

These are not standard values. Recently, during the 61st flight, Ingenuity reached a maximum height of 24 metres, which it has not yet exceeded, and during the 68th and 69th flights its speed reached 10 m/s, also an unbeaten record. Also during the 69th flight, a maximum distance of 705 meters was covered, again representing a single-flight distance record for Ingenuity.

However, reaching 70 flights is a particularly significant achievement. From the technological demonstration of flying into another world, creativity has turned into A real explorer of Marslike its mission companion, the Perseverance rover, and others before them.

Image of Ingenuity taken by the Perseverance rover in August 2023. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

More and more kilometers in the air

Since the beginning of the mission, Ingenuity has been on a journey A total of approximately 17.7 kilometers over 70 trips On Mars. The Perseverance rover, which is moving on Earth, has gone even further: its odometer currently stands at 23,729 kilometres. A big number, but not yet a record for rovers on the Red Planet: Opportunity has accumulated 45.16 km during its operational life on Mars, from January 2004 to June 2018.

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The area of ​​Mars being explored by the drone and rover for the Mars 2020 mission is extremely rugged. They are about a kilometer away from each other, but while remaining persistent where there are mostly easier and less dangerous rocks and stones to pass on wheels, the drone moves from one flight field to another. Even in the presence of high sand dunes.

We remember, in fact, that Perseverance has and will always have priority over Ingenuity, as the main mission of Mars 2020 is tied to the rover. Ingenuity is the first drone to fly on a planet other than Earth, and is a complete test model, designed to prove the possibility of flying to Mars with the aim of sending future unmanned missions to this and other planets.

To be a completely successful part of the mission, 5 flights were enough: however, the drone significantly exceeded expectations, reaching 70 flights. Above all, continue with Perseverance to collect data about Jezero Crater and about the possibility of the existence of previous microbial life on the Red Planet.

Recently on Astrospace.it's Telegram channel we conducted a poll on the number of flights that Ingenuity is expected to undertake. The results also confirm the optimism among our readers who expect it to exceed 100 flights. You can vote here.

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