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NASA extends flight operations of its Ingenuity helicopter on Mars


NASA extends flight operations of its Ingenuity helicopter on Mars

The U. S. governmental space agency NASA has extended flight operations on Mars for its Ingenuity helicopter. After 21 flights on Mars, the aircraft is still in excellent condition; hence NASA has expanded its mission through at least September 2022.

The Ingenuity helicopter arrived on Mars with NASA’s Perseverance rover on February 18, 2021. Its original mission was to demonstrate the ability to fly a helicopter in the red planet’s thin atmosphere. After notching three successful flights under its belt, proving the technology—and marking the first powered flight on another planet—NASA shifted Ingenuity to operational mode with two flights. Since then, the Ingenuity helicopter has logged 16 successful flights, further testifying its mission capabilities while helping the Perseverance rover navigate the Jezero Crater. Now, the helicopter is onto its new mission: to explore the Jezero River Delta.

In a press release, Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that the Jezero river delta campaign would be the biggest challenge the Ingenuity team has facedsince the helicopter’s first flight on the planet Mars.

The Jezero river delta region is hazardous for both Ingenuity and Perseverance rover. The areais dominated by jagged cliffs, projecting boulders, angled surfaces, and sand-filled pockets that could stop a rover in its tracks or upend a helicopter upon landing. However, NASA’s Ingenuity team at the Jet Propulsion Lab is confident that it only provides the Ingenuity helicopter a greater opportunity to demonstrate its scouting abilities.

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