Ingenuity Mars Helicopter completes 15th flight
NASA’s Mars Helicopter known as Ingenuity has begun to traverse its way back to the famed Wright Brothers Field on the Martian surface after completing its 15th successful flight.
After completing a nominal test flight by spinning its rotors at 2,700 rotations per minute, Ingenuity demonstrated it is still capable of powered flight as the weather on Mars begins to heat up.
Following the 14th flight of the helicopter, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory decided it was time to fly the helicopter back to its proving ground known as Wright Brothers Field.
The 15th flight took place Nov. 6, 2021, and saw the helicopter travel a distance of about 1,300 feet (about 400 meters) during 128.8 seconds of flight, travelling at 11.1 miles per hour (about five meters per second).
Now that the 15th flight is complete, both Ingenuity and the Perseverance rover are on a journey to rendezvous at the east edge of Séítah before traveling west to reach the Jezero ancient river delta on the Martian surface.
It is expected to take between four and seven flights to reach the rendezvous point at Wright Brothers Field. The JPL team said it is also considering a flight software upgrade to potentially enable new navigation capabilities for future challenges.
Ingenuity’s first flight took place April 19, 2021, which was sol 58 on Mars (a sol is on Martian day with sol 0 being the day the Perseverance rover landed, Feb. 18, 2021). The goal was for the small 1.8-kilogram vehicle to fly five times over 30 sols.
Including this flight, Ingenuity has flown some 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) over the course of nearly 200 sols.
Having a life-long interest in crewed space flight, Desforges’ passion materialized on a family vacation in 1999 when he was able see the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-96. Since then, Desforges has been an enthusiast of space exploration efforts. He lived in Orlando, Florida for a year, during which time he had the opportunity to witness the flights of the historic CRS-4 and EFT-1 missions in person at Cape Canaveral. He earned his Private Pilot Certificate in 2017, holds a degree in Aviation Management, and currently works as an Operations Analyst in the aviation industry in Georgia.