Months after making the first successful aviation to Mars, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ingenuity helicopter has already completed its second flight turn on 22 April. The Ingenuity helicopter took flight at 5:33 a.m. according to Eastern Daylight Time. According to NASA, the flight lasted for 50.9 seconds, and the helicopter climbed upto 5 meters. There were several new added challenges at the time of the second flight like a higher maximum altitude, sideways movement, and longer duration of the flight.
Bob Balaram, the chief engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told the reporters, “So far, the engineering measurements that we have received and analyzed tells us that the flight met our expectations and our previous computer modelling has been accurate. We’ve already had two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there will be a lot to learn from this month of Ingenuity”.
On comparing the two flights – flight one maxed out at three meters over the surface, while the Ingenuity heli climbed to 5 meters on its second flight. As the helicopter started floating for some time, the flight control system performed a very small five-degree tilt. With this tilt, the thrust from the rotating to its opposite accelerated the craft sideways to two meters.
According to the JPL Nasa report, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter venture is both of a high-risk and high-reward technology demonstration. Also, if the Ingenuity heli was to face any complications during its 30-sol task, then NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover mission would also not be impacted.
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is a type of new demonstration of a new flying capability that NASA will use in the future. As of now, there are no plans to send a second helicopter on Mars. But the chief engineer, Bob Balaram confirmed that he and his team has already begun sketching designs for a bigger and better Mars helicopter capable of carrying about 10 pounds of scientific equipment.