NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – Start of the Return Journey

Perseverance's First Road Trip

Perseverance’s First Road Trip: This annotated image of Mars’ Jezero Crater depicts the route NASA’s Perseverance rover is taking during its first science campaign – as well as its path to the location of its second science campaign. Ingenuity will be tasked with joining Perseverance along this journey, with the goal of reaching Jezero’s river delta. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

With conjunction over and our first flight at 2,700 RPM behind us, Ingenuity is ready to begin the journey back to the Wright Brothers Field at the Octavia E. Butler landing site, before venturing beyond. The above figure depicts the mission ahead of Ingenuity, which is to join Perseverance in the trek north along the east edge of Séítah, before traveling west to reach the Jezero ancient river delta.  To accomplish this feat, the Ingenuity team is planning a series of 4-7 flights to return to Wright Brothers Field. Along the way the project is considering preparing a flight software upgrade for our helicopter which will potentially enable new navigation capabilities onboard, and better prepare Ingenuity for the challenges ahead.

Flight Profile for Ingenuity's Flight 15

Flight Profile for Ingenuity’s Flight 15: This annotated image depicts the planned ground track of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (light blue) during its 15th flight at Mars. The blue X denotes the takeoff location, blue dot is landing. Red X is the current Perseverance location. The green lines indicate the expected sightlines that will be captured in the flights 10 planned color images. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Flight #15 is the start of our journey back to Wright Brothers Field. Taking place no earlier than Saturday, Nov. 6 at 9:22 a.m. PT, or 12:03 LMST (local Mars time), the 254th sol (Martian day) of the Perseverance mission, Flight #15 will return Ingenuity back to the Raised Ridges region, imaged in Flight #10. In this flight the helicopter will traverse 1,332 feet (406 meters) during 130 seconds of flight, traveling at 11.1 mph (5 mps) groundspeed. We’ll capture color return-to-earth (RTE) high resolution (13MP) images, one post-takeoff pointed to the SW, and nine pointed toward the NW along the flight-path. Nominal altitude for the flight is expected to be 39.3 feet (12 meters) above ground level.

This will be the second flight of Ingenuity during Mars’ summer low air-density, requiring that the rotor blades are spun at 2,700 RPM to compensate. This flight will generate critical high-RPM motor performance, which the team will use to design and tailor upcoming low-density flights in the months ahead.

Below is an updated ledger of some of the most important numbers for Ingenuity’s Mars flights so far. Along with those listed below, we’ve taken 83 13-megapixel color images, 1,772 black-and-white navigation camera images, and performed two flight software upgrades along the way.

  Since Deployment
(April 3, 2021/Sol 43)
In Tech Demo In Ops Demo % Above Tech Demo
Sols Achieved
(as of last Heli downlink)
203 31 172 554%
Num. Flights 14 5 9 180%
Distance Flown (m) 2883 m 
(~1.55 nmiles)
499 m 2384 m 477%
Time Flown (s) 1492 s (24 min 52 s) 396 s 1096 s 276%

Written by Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity Team Lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

2 Comments on "NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – Start of the Return Journey"

  1. THOMAS H JENKINS | November 12, 2021 at 12:37 am | Reply

    WOW!

  2. Very nice nasa

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