NASA’s Ingenuity mini-helicopter made a third flight to Mars on Sunday, moving farther and faster than its previous sortie, peaking at 7 kilometers per hour, the US space agency said.
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After the first flight, and then about a second almost constant as well, this time the machine traveled 50 meters, reaching a speed of 2 meters per second, or 7 km / h.
“Today’s trip was what we had planned, but it was nothing short of impressive,” said Dave Lavery, program director, of NASA’s headquarters in Washington, in a statement.
The Perseverance Wagon, with the tiny 1.8kg helicopter on board, filmed this third 80-second flight. On Sunday, NASA announced that clips of this video will be sent to Earth in the coming days.
This side displacement flight was a test of the helicopter’s autonomous navigation system, which performs this trajectory based on previously received information. “If creativity goes too fast, the flight algorithm will not be able to determine the terrain,” NASA explained.
The very low density of Mars air (1% of Earth’s atmosphere) forced NASA teams to design an ultra-light helicopter that rotates its blades much faster than those of a regular machine, in order to remove it from Earth.
The space agency is now announcing preparations for a fourth flight. Trekking is set to get harder and push creativity to its limits.
Whatever happens, after a maximum of a month, the experiment of creativity will cease, to allow the persistent Rover to dedicate itself to its main mission: to search for traces of ancient life on Mars.