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Ingenuity's eighth flight today, helicopter demonstrating operational capability on Mars

India Today logo India Today 21-06-2021 India Today Web Desk
Ingenuity Ingenuity

Weeks after landing on a new location, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter is set for its eighth flight to another new location today. The flight will take the small rotorcraft to a new location previously not surveyed by the helicopter or the Perseverance rover.

The helicopter will fly 160 meters south to its current landing strip in the next hop. "Ingenuity will attempt its 8th flight no earlier than June 21. This mighty little rotorcraft will fly 160 meters south to another new landing site as it continues to travel alongside," Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.

As part of its operations demonstration phase, the helicopter reached the current landing site during the seventh flight, logging a 62.8 second flight time as it travelled 106 meters south. The helicopter has been relying on images captured by the HiRISE camera aboard Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify possible landing zones as it continues to create minuscule dust storms on another world.

a close up of a desert field with a mountain in the background © Provided by India Today
The Ingenuity team created history by flying an aircraft on another planet. (Photo: Nasa JPL)

The helicopter that reached Mars shrouded in the belly of the SUV-sized Perseverance rover is the first to fly beyond Earth. The rotorcraft has been able to fly in the thin Martian atmosphere, displaying the engineering marvel from Nasa. The small craft survived an anomaly during its sixth flight on May 27, when it lost navigational pattern as it transitioned into the operations demonstration phase.

Ingenuity wins 2021 Space Foundation award

In yet another milestone for the rotorcraft, the team of engineers and scientists behind Ingenuity have been named the winner of the 2021 John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr. Award for Space Exploration by Space Foundation. Named after astronaut John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr, the command module pilot for the Apollo 13 mission, the award "recognises extraordinary accomplishments by a company, space agency, or consortium of organizations in the realm of space exploration," JPL said in a statement.

The Ingenuity team created history by flying an aircraft on another planet and adding the critical aerial element in interplanetary exploration. The award will be presented to the team on August 23 during the opening ceremony of the 36th Space Symposium.

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