The work isn’t over for NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter.
Engineers hope to fly the rotorcraft four more times in the next two weeks before calling it quits on the pioneering technology experiment, which accomplished the first powered flight of an aircraft on another planet Monday.
As officials celebrated the helicopter’s historic flight, teams were already looking forward to a series of more daring hops to take Ingenuity higher and farther away from its makeshift “airfield” on the Red Planet.
The helicopter’s one-month test flight campaign officially began April 3, then the Perseverance rover deployed Ingenuity onto the surface of Mars.
“We have a 30 day experiment window, so we have two weeks left,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
She said the helicopter will attempt “increasingly bolder flights” that could travel more than 2,000 feet (600 meters) from its takeoff location. “We do want to push it, and I believe we have enough time to squeeze the next four flights in the next two weeks left.”
“Ultimately, we expect the helicopter will meet its limit,” Aung said. “But that information is extremely important. This is a Pathfinder. This is about finding unknown ...