Lasting 51.9 seconds, Ingenuity’s experimental flight on April 22, 2021, added several new challenges to its first flight, including a higher maximum altitude, longer duration, and sideways movement.
NASA’s Perseverance rover acquired this image on April 22, 2021, using its left Mastcam-Z camera. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS.
For its second flight test, Ingenuity took off again at 5:33 a.m. EDT (2:33 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time.
But where the first flight topped out at 3 m (10 feet) above the surface, the helicopter climbed to 5 m (16 feet) this time.
After Ingenuity hovered briefly, its flight control system performed a slight (5-degree) tilt, allowing some of the thrust from the counter-rotating rotors to accelerate the craft sideways for 2 m (7 feet).
Ingenuity’s navigation camera captures the helicopter’s shadow on the surface of Jezero Crater during its second experimental flight on April 22, 2021. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.
“The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions,” said Ingenuity’s chief pilot Dr. Håvard Grip, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here — to make these unknowns known.”
“So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” said Ingenuity’s chief engineer Dr. Bob Balaram, also from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”
As with the first test, the Perseverance rover obtained imagery of the flight attempt from 64.3 m (211 feet) away using its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers.
The initial set of data from the flight was received by the Ingenuity team beginning at 9:20 a.m. EDT (6:20 a.m. PDT).
“For the second flight, we tried a slightly different approach to the zoom level on one of the cameras,” said Perseverance project imaging scientist and Mastcam-Z deputy principal investigator Dr. Justin Maki, also from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“For the first flight, one of the cameras was fully zoomed in on the takeoff and landing zone.”
“For the second flight, we zoomed that camera out a bit for a wider field of view to capture more of the flight.”
Because the data and imagery indicate that the helicopter not only survived the second flight but also flew as anticipated, the Ingenuity team is considering how best to expand the profiles of its next flights to acquire additional aeronautical data from the first successful flight tests on another world.
This article is based on text provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.