NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity set for 7th Red Planet flight on Sunday

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity will take to the air once more this weekend, if all goes based on plan.

Ingenuity’s handlers are prepping the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper for its seventh Martian flight, which is able to happen no sooner than Sunday (June 6). The plan is to ship Ingenuity to a brand new airfield, about 350 ft (105 meters) south of its present location on the ground of Jezero Crater.

“This will mark the second time the helicopter will land at an airfield that it did not survey from the air during a previous flight,” NASA officers wrote in an update on Friday (June 4). “Instead, the Ingenuity team is relying on imagery collected by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that suggests this new base of operations is relatively flat and has few surface obstructions.”

Data from the flight can be beamed residence to Earth over the three days following the flight, they added.

Video: See the view on Mars from Ingenuity helicopter’s fourth flight

Ingenuity additionally flew to an unscouted airfield on its sixth flight, which occurred on May 22 and didn’t go 100% easily. The solar-powered rotorcraft suffered a glitch that briefly interrupted the circulate of pictures from its navigation digicam to its onboard pc. But Ingenuity managed to power through the anomaly, touchdown safely near its designated landing spot.

Ingenuity landed with NASA’s Perseverance rover contained in the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero on Feb. 18. On April 3, the helicopter deployed from Perseverance’s stomach, kicking off a month-long flight marketing campaign designed to reveal that powered flight is feasible on Mars.

Ingenuity aced that authentic mission with 5 flights, which obtained successively extra advanced and bold. NASA then granted a mission extension for the helicopter, which focuses on showcasing the scouting potential of Martian rotorcraft. Sunday’s deliberate flight would be the second one on this new marketing campaign.

Perseverance documented Ingenuity’s first 5 flights extensively, capturing video and audio of the history-making hops. But the rover has now begun focusing on its personal science mission, which includes looking for indicators of historic Mars life and gathering samples for future return to Earth, so photographs of Ingenuity in motion are more durable to return by nowadays.

Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a ebook concerning the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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