NASA Ingenuity also completed its 21st flight to Mars far exceeding the engineers’ initial expectations. It continues its journey alongside the NASA Perseverance rover towards the river delta that filled the crater. The flight of the Martian drone was scheduled for March 5, but only a few hours ago we have confirmed the success of the operation.
Recall that both the rover and the helicopter are heading to the initial landing area and then continue towards the river delta that once filled the Jezero crater with water. In areas rich in sediments, important traces could be present both for reconstructing the history of the Red Planet and for looking for traces of past life (in the form of unicellular organisms). The Mars 2020 mission has currently been on the planet for just over a year and continues without particular problems.
NASA Ingenuity’s 21st flight to Mars completed
The information currently released by the JPL reported that the 21st flight of the Martian drone allowed it to travel 370 meters with a speed of 3.85 m / s while remaining in flight for 129.2 “. The flight log is currently not updated with the latest information and is complete only up to the twentieth flight which took place at the end of February.
The mission’s RAW photography database has also not been updated (but should be soon). In particular, the low-resolution black and white images of the Navcam should arrive while later those of the high-resolution RTE / Return-to-Eearth cameras (borrowed from the consumer electronics market, using a Sony chip) could arrive. These are the only two “tools” available on NASA Ingenuity because the agency had a limited budget for the drone (about 85 million dollars) and it was not yet clear if it was possible to fly to Mars in this way, so much so that it is a technology demonstrator.
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According to the Mars Relay Network in these hours NASA Perseverance has connected with several Martian orbiters allowing to download various information to Earth. These could also include those relating to the flight of the Martian drone. Up to the twentieth flight, NASA Ingenuity ‘s cumulative data reported a distance traveled of 4,277 km, with a maximum altitude of 12 meters, a ground speed of 5 m / s, and a flight time of 36.7 minutes.