NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has performed its shortest-ever flight, the initially just after a main program update that will allow the small chopper to land more safely and navigate above rugged terrain.
Ingenuity‘s 34th flight, which took location on Tuesday (Nov. 22), lasted only 18 seconds and observed the helicopter briefly hover just after takeoff previously mentioned Mars’ area ahead of landing just 16 ft (5 meters) absent from its starting up level. The flight, the to start with because Sept. 29, was the to start with try out-out of a new program method that was beamed to Ingenuity from Earth to enhance its ability to function in the rugged terrain that its father or mother Perseverance rover is presently exploring.
Ingenuity is an really thriving technological innovation demonstration, but it was developed to navigate in smooth terrain, these as Wright Brothers Field, wherever it was 1st deployed in April 2021. The helicopter has been nailing 1 flight after yet another, prompting its ground handle teams to dare to start out sending the flying robotic into a lot more complex landscapes.
Linked: Soar in excess of Mars rover tracks with Ingenuity helicopter (movie)
These much more daring flights needed the Ingenuity group to research for stage airfields that are free of charge of rocks that could injury the helicopter during landing. Because Jezero Crater, which the helicopter and Perseverance are checking out, is alternatively rocky, individuals flat, safe and sound airfields have been really hard to obtain. The new software program will use Ingenuity’s downward-going through camera to detect risky objects prior to landing and steer Ingenuity to stay clear of them, enabling the chopper to use lesser airfields.
“When in flight, Ingenuity will identify the safest visible landing website,” the Ingenuity team reported in a assertion (opens in new tab). “When getting ready to land, Ingenuity will then divert above to this chosen web site.”
The software will also make Ingenuity additional self-assured in flight. Due to the fact the helicopter was developed to fly around flat fields, its cameras formerly could get confused by looking at a hilly landscape underneath. The aged software program would consider the helicopter was veering, which would make it in fact veer whilst in flight in a misguided endeavor to stabilize its course.
“Around extensive flights, navigation mistakes triggered by tough terrain need to be accounted for, requiring the crew to pick out large airfields,” the Ingenuity crew said in the statement. “This new software update corrects this flat-floor assumption by employing electronic elevation maps of Jezero Crater to enable the navigation software distinguish among adjustments in terrain and car or truck movement.”
With the new application, Ingenuity will be ready to scout a broader vary of terrain varieties for Perseverance to take a look at in element.
“We’re all psyched to see where by this update will allow for us to take Ingenuity’s journey next!” the team wrote.