NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Flies Again After Unscheduled Landing – NASA Mars Exploration

The helicopter carried out a brief hop to assist the workforce higher perceive why its earlier flight was interrupted.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter efficiently accomplished its 54th flight on Aug. 3, the primary flight for the reason that helicopter reduce its July 22 flight quick. The 25-second up-and-down hop offered information that might assist the Ingenuity workforce decide why its 53rd flight ended early.

Flight 53 was deliberate as a 136-second scouting flight devoted to amassing imagery of the planet’s floor for the Perseverance Mars rover science workforce. The sophisticated flight profile included flying north 666 ft (203 meters) at an altitude of 16 ft (5 meters) and a velocity of 5.6 mph (2.5 meters per second), then descending vertically to eight ft (2.5 meters), the place it could hover and procure imagery of a rocky outcrop. Ingenuity would then climb straight as much as 33 ft (10 meters) to permit its hazard divert system to provoke earlier than descending vertically to the touch down.

As an alternative, the helicopter executed the primary half of its autonomous journey, flying north at an altitude of 16 ft (5 meters) for 466 ft (142 meters). Then a flight-contingency program was triggered, and Ingenuity mechanically landed. The entire flight time was 74 seconds.

This image of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover – visible at the top, right of center – was taken at an altitude of about 16 feet (5 meters) by the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter during its 54th flight on Aug. 3, 2023, 872nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Perseverance Seen From Above Throughout Flight 54: This picture of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover – seen on the high, proper of heart – was taken at an altitude of about 16 ft (5 meters) by the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter throughout its 54th flight on Aug. 3, 2023, 872nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Obtain picture ›

“Because the very first flight we have now included a program known as ‘LAND_NOW’ that was designed to place the helicopter on the floor as quickly as doable if anybody of some dozen off-nominal situations was encountered,” mentioned Teddy Tzanetos, workforce lead emeritus for Ingenuity at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Throughout Flight 53, we encountered considered one of these, and the helicopter labored as deliberate and executed a right away touchdown.”

The Ingenuity workforce is assured that the early touchdown was triggered when picture frames from the helicopter’s navigation digital camera didn’t sync up as anticipated with information from the rotorcraft’s inertial measurement unit. The unit measures Ingenuity’s acceleration and rotational charges – information that makes it doable to estimate the place the helicopter is, how briskly it’s transferring, and the way it’s oriented in area. This was not the primary event on which picture frames had been dropped by the helicopter’s Navcam throughout a flight. Again on Might 22, 2021, a number of picture frames had been dropped, leading to extreme pitching and rolling close to the tip of Flight 6.

After Flight 6, the workforce up to date the flight software program to assist mitigate the influence of dropped photographs, and the repair labored properly for the following 46 flights. Nevertheless, on Flight 53 the amount of dropped navigation photographs exceeded what the software program patch permits.

“Whereas we hoped to by no means set off a LAND_NOW, this flight is a worthwhile case examine that may profit future plane working on different worlds,” mentioned Tzanetos. “The workforce is working to higher perceive what occurred in Flight 53, and with Flight 54’s success we’re assured that our child is able to maintain hovering forward on Mars.”

Extra About Ingenuity

Ingenuity started its life at Mars as a know-how demonstration. It first flew on April 19, 2021, hovering 10 ft (3 meters) for 30 seconds. 4 extra flights in as many weeks added 499 seconds and noticed the helicopter flying horizontally over the floor for 1,171 ft (357 meters). After proving flight was doable on Mars, Ingenuity entered an operations demonstration part in Might 2021 to point out how aerial scouting may gain advantage future exploration of Mars and different worlds.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was constructed by JPL, which additionally manages the challenge for NASA Headquarters. It’s supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Analysis Middle in California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Langley Analysis Middle in Hampton, Virginia, offered vital flight efficiency evaluation and technical help throughout Ingenuity’s growth. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero additionally offered design help and main automobile parts. Lockheed House designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Supply System.

At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is this system government for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

Information Media Contacts

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Alana Johnson/ Karen Fox

NASA Headquarters, Washington

202-358-1501 / 301-286-6284 /


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