NASA’s Ingenuity Space Copter Performing Beyond Expectations

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NASA is expanding the test envelope for the Ingenuity space copter after a series of successful sorties on Mars. Last month, Ingenuity, become the first lift-supported aircraft to fly on another planet.

With Ingenuity having met its early goals, NASA has expanded the experiment to an “operational demonstration,” planned to stretch Ingenuity’s range and explore different parts of the planet from above the surface of Mars. To date, Ingenuity had been taking off and landing close by the Perseverance rover “mother ship,” which landed at the red planet’s Jezero Crater in February.

Early goals for Ingenuity were limited to testing how high and how far the aircraft could go, progressively stretching the envelope with every flight. The demonstration flights were expected to end in early May. Ingenuity is also expected to fly in support of Perseverance’s ongoing mission. NASA says the helicopter could explore nearby terrain to send back video of scientific interest or to help map suitable terrain for the rover to navigate. These additional unplanned flights are “a bonus and not a requirement for Perseverance to complete its science mission,” according to a NASA statement.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. To me, this is one of the cooler aspects of the Persrverance rover program. First, it is impressive that engineers managed to build a craft that can actually produce lift in the thin Martian air and still made it compact enough to fit under the ‘Mother Ship” rover. If the little flyer can be used to improve the efficiency of the rover by mapping out routes in advance, it helps the whole program.

  2. NASA has always been a fantastic organization. From our seven, is that right, moon landings over one half century ago to now this, the NASA team gets the job done. And those moon landings were done with the computer and rocket technology of fifty years ago. Everyone a success including getting Apollo 13 back home safely. Expensive? Yea. But worth every cent in my opinion. We can be very proud of all of that.