Jafra News – NASA’s Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, has completed its 51st flight over the surface of the Red Planet, continuing to impress the scientific community.
During its 51st flight on Saturday, April 22, Ingenuity took a picture of its companion robot, the Perseverance rover, from a height of 12 meters (40 feet) above the surface of Mars.
In the image, Perseverance can be seen motionless in the red soil of the planet in the background, almost indistinguishable from the large boulders scattered across the Martian landscape.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) shared the image on Twitter on Monday, April 24, adding that Ingenuity 51’s flight took less than 137 seconds and saw the small helicopter travel for a total of 188 meters (617 feet).
And the two robots on Mars take turns taking great pictures of each other. And just last week, the Perseverance rover captured an image showing a huge amount of Martian dust accumulating on the rotors of the helicopter.
The latest creative image came just nine days after the helicopter’s 50th flight above the planet’s surface.
The 1.8kg helicopter was originally intended to make only five flights into the thin atmosphere of Mars to determine if a flight was possible on the red planet.
Since its maiden flight in April 2021, it has continued to demonstrate its ability to take off and land repeatedly.
Because of the distance between Mars and Earth, remote driving is impossible, so the helicopter flies on pre-programmed flight paths.
It has become a scout for Perseverance, helping to locate sites of interest for the rover in its mission to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.
While the helicopter was taking aerial photos, Perseverance was busy collecting soil and rock samples that will one day be returned to Earth via the ambitious Mars sample return mission.
That campaign, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), will carry helicopters to Mars to retrieve the samples Perseverance had been hiding in a sample repository. (The basic plan is for Perseverance to deliver its tube samples to the lander itself, and helicopters will do the work if the rover isn’t up to the task.)
According to current plans, the Earth Return Orbiter made by the European Space Agency will send the samples back to Earth to land in the Utah desert in 2033.