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The Mars helicopter changes the fourth successful flight

NASA “Ingenuity” helicopter grounded Thursday With the help of absurd but understandable software, he successfully completed his fourth flight in the super-thin atmosphere of Mars on Friday, starting a new phase of extended scientific activities for a $ 80 million unmanned aerial vehicle.

“Ingenuity successfully completed its fourth leap today. We could not have been happier,” said project manager Mimi Aung in an online status report. “We have a lot of data to analyze. The ingenuity on Mars was perfect. This is an amazing time for our whole team. ”

The helicopter data, which was transported to Earth by one of the orbits of Perseverance rover և NASA Mars, confirms that the 4-pound helicopter left the “Wright Brothers Field” in the crater of Jez Ezero at 10:00 AM EDT. 49 (at 12:33 local time) on Mars).

A photo of a Perseverance astronaut capturing an ingenuity helicopter flying more than 400 feet during a flight (from the extreme right) on Friday.

A photo of a Perseverance astronaut capturing an ingenuity helicopter flying more than 400 feet during a flight (from the extreme right) on Friday.

It then climbed to a height of 16 feet, leaned south, flew about 436 feet, and retreated again, 57 minutes before landing, one second before landing.

On the way, the small drone captured 60 black-and-white shots of the ground inside, as well as five color scenes, data that will be used to build a three-dimensional map to help mission planners discover the future use of the new “airport.”

“Good luck,” the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where Inventive was built, tweeted after the data came out to confirm the flight. “#MarsHelicopter has completed its 4th flight, going faster and faster than ever before. He also took more pictures as it flew over the surface of Mars. We expect these images to decline as a result of further data declines. ”

Good luck!#MarsHelicopter: completed its 4th flight, going faster and faster than ever before. It also took more pictures as it flew over the surface of Mars. We expect these images to decline in the future as data declines, but @NASAPersevere:Hazkam caught part of the flight. pic.twitter.com/Fx3UHu4jgv:

– NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 30, 2021

NASA Science Director Thomas Urb Urbuchen wrote in tweets: “It is unbelievable. Congratulations to the team on the 4th flight of ingenuity. “

4-pound helicopter added Perseverance rover mission As a demonstration of technology, it met all of its pre-flight goals during three flawless test flights earlier this month.

As a result, NASA officials decided to expand the mission of the drone to include at least a month of flight operations, launching a rotator cuff to collect scientific data. At the same time, Perseverance will move from helicopter support operations to the completion of preparations for its own scientific mission.

“As ingenuity remains healthy, we plan to use it to take advantage of future aerial platforms while at the same time prioritizing the Perseverance rover team’s long-term science goals,” Urb Urbuchen said in an earlier statement.

For the fifth flight of the helicopter, “we will send the ingenuity to a one-way flight to the new airport,” Aung said at a briefing on Friday. “Once that is achieved, we will work closely with the (Perseverance team) to identify new, operational products and scenarios that we want to test (move forward). I can not tell you how excited we are about this. a new stage. “

Initially, engineers kept two test flights in reserve if the ingenuity failed to achieve its primary goals during the first three. But those other necessary accommodations have been transformed into transitional flights, eliminating the bridge between the operational proofs of the concept of “air reconnaissance capabilities”.

“We are now … working on operational products, such as aerial surveillance of specific scientific targets or contextual features from locations not accessible by rovers,” Aung said. “Another operational product we will look at is exploration for potential scientific observations, exploration for future rover crossings, or reconnaissance helicopter reconnaissance for new airports.

“We can also view stereo maps, digital elevation maps. So as we prepare these products, the lessons learned from this exercise will be of great benefit to future airborne missions. And as long as we pursue those operational products, we will continue to drive ingenuity. ”

Ingenuity captured the imagination of the world first flight on April 19 About a month after arriving on Mars with the Perseverance rover. The drone soared to a height of about 10 feet, hovered for a short time, and then landed.

It flew for the second time on April 22, climbing 16 feet, flying about seven feet to one side, then returning. For him third flight On April 25, the ingenuity rose to 16 feet, “jumped 164 feet” before returning to its starting point.

An earlier image of an Ingenuity helicopter resting on the surface of Mars after getting rid of Perseverance Ravers. / Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

An earlier image of an Ingenuity helicopter resting on the surface of Mars after getting rid of Perseverance Ravers. / Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

“When Ingenuity landed on the ground after that third flight, we knew we had more data to help engineers design future generations of Mars helicopters,” said Bob Balaram, chief engineer at JPL Ingenuity. : “We now plan to expand our bandwidth, speed and bandwidth to get further performance insights.”

The team originally planned to launch the helicopter on Thursday, the fourth day of Thursday, but data from Earth showed that Ingenuity’s flight computer could not enter flight mode as expected.

A similar problem occurred on April 9 during a test of rotor rotation before a drone The first flight,

At the time, engineers were debating whether to delete the ingenuity flight program, download the modified version from scratch, or simply attach additional commands that would improve the probability of a successful flight mode.

They decided that the latest version was less risky, but said it was possible that the malfunction might happen again. Ingenuity then made three successful test flights in a row, switching to Thursday’s scheduled flight when it failed to switch to flight mode again.

The system was working normally on Friday. Balaram said the team could review whether to replace the Ingenuity flight software with a modified version to avoid such problems along the way.

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