The shadow of Mars Helicopter Ingenuity as seen from its onboard camera as the helicopter makes its 14th flight above the Martian surface. Credit: NASA
Last week, NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity successfully made its 14th flight, testing a higher rotor speed in anticipation upcoming seasonal changes.
The 23-second flight occurred at 4:18 a.m. EDT Oct. 24, 2021, in Jezero Crater. Ingenuity’s flight path took it five meters above the Martian surface followed by a two meter translation to the side in order to avoid an uneven surface caused by sand ripples below.
While this was by no means Ingenuity’s longest flight, it was the first flight to bring the device’s rotors to a top speed of 2,700 rotations per minute, more than five times the average rotor rotational speed for helicopters on Earth.
This flight marked the first in a series of high-RPM flights as the season begins to change on the red planet. The changing seasons on Mars are expected to result in a much thinner air density, making it more difficult for Ingenuity’s rotors to achieve lift.
Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory wanted to make a small trial run to see how the helicopter performs at such ...