On Mars, it’s the same as here, whenever you get used to working, the bosses will change things.
At least we’ve read about Jezero Crater, and the Mars Ingenuity helicopter just completed the mission upgrade and expansion. At a press conference on Friday morning, the Ingenuity flight team, along with members of the Perseverance team and some members of NASA, announced that Ingenuity had earned an additional 30 soles of flight time and would move from the “demonstrator technical “original to” action show “stage. They also announced Ingenuity’s fourth flight, which successfully completed today, traveling 266 meters and hovering for 117 seconds.
The original fourth flight captured by the Perseverance Rover (circle). Source: The NASA / JPL mission expansion has two main drivers. First, in terms of proving that the helicopter can fly in the Martian atmosphere and operate autonomously, Ingenuity has achieved all the technical goals set for it. To this end, Ingenuity has compiled a huge dataset that will provide insights for future drone design for planetary exploration. However, this alone is not enough to justify expanding tasks. Ingenuity is always an add-on, designed to consume as few resources as possible of Perseverance’s main mission, which is to collect samples to find ancient creatures on Mars. The purpose of the plan is to allow the rover to stay close to Ingenuity to support 30 sol flight operations and then head to the most interesting area of the Jezero crater to explore and collect samples.
But it turns out that, as Hengxin revealed, the area around Ingenuity’s business area, called Wright Brothers Field, is much more interesting to planetary scientists than originally expected. This provides an opportunity for the rover to maintain its status quo, reduce sampling and scientific work, and still support Ingenuity’s current mission.
We found this to be an exciting development, and we look forward to the data and images of today’s “creativity and perseverance” overlapping tasks. To learn more about these incredible spaceships, check out our in-depth understanding of the rover and its supporting helicopters.