NOV 30, 2021 6:27 AM PST

Perseverance Captures Challenges Faced by Helicopter on Mars

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The Perseverance rover has captured footage of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter while it was completing its thirteen flight on Mars on September 4, 2021. During this mission, the helicopter explored varied terrain and took images from different angles of a geological feature in the Jezero Crater known as Séítah.

Perseverance is equipped with a camera that shot video of the 160.5-second flight and took closeup footage of the takeoff and landing. This data will tell researchers more about dust plumes that the helicopter generates.

The initial ascent of the helicopter creates a plume of dust, and the craft reaches and altitude of eight meters (26 feet) before maneuvering into position to take images. Ingenuity moves sideways, then offscreen, before returning and landing near where it took off.

"We took off from the crater floor and flew over an elevated ridgeline before dipping into Séítah," said Ingenuity Chief Pilot Håvard Grip of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Since the helicopter's navigation filter prefers flat terrain, we programmed in a waypoint near the ridgeline, where the helicopter slows down and hovers for a moment. Our flight simulations indicated that this little breather would help the helicopter keep track of its heading in spite of the significant terrain variations. It does the same on the way back. It's awesome to actually get to see this occur, and it reinforces the accuracy of our modeling and our understanding of how to best operate Ingenuity."

Ingenuity went dark in October because Mars and Earth were on opposite sides of the Sun, and no communications could be sent from here to there. After work resumed, Flight 15 was completed, and Ingenuity will soon be taking its sixteenth flight.

Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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