NASA’s Mars helicopter soars increased, longer on 2nd flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s little Mars helicopter aced its second check flight Thursday, hovering even increased and longer than earlier than.

The 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) chopper, named Ingenuity, hovered longer and in addition flew aspect to aspect this time, based on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. It achieved the meant altitude of 16 ft (5 meters) and even accelerated sideways 7 ft (2 meters).

This hop lasted 52 seconds, 13 seconds longer than the primary one.

“Go big or go home!” JPL tweeted in saying the Earth Day information.

The success got here simply three days after Ingenuity made the primary powered flight by an plane on one other planet. The helicopter carried a little bit of wing cloth from the Wright Flyer that made related historical past at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

Flight controllers needed to wait 4 hours earlier than studying Thursday’s end result. Like it did throughout Monday’s 10-foot-high (3-meter-high) hop, the helicopter despatched again a black and white photograph displaying its shadow towards the dusty, rock-strewn floor now referred to as Wright Brothers Field.

“It sounds easy, however there are various unknowns relating to how one can fly a helicopter on Mars,” Ingenuity’s chief pilot, Havard Grip, said from JPL in a statement. “That’s why we’re here — to make these unknowns known.”

One of the challenges is the planet’s extremely thin atmosphere — 1% that of Earth’s.

NASA plans up to three more test flights in the next 1 1/2 weeks, venturing higher each time with more complicated acrobatics. Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on the rover Perseverance, which photographed the proceedings from more than 200 feet (64 meters) away. The rover team allotted one month for the $85 million tech demo; The clock started ticking when Ingenuity was released from Perseverance’s belly on April 3.

“We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity,” chief engineer Bob Balaram stated in a press release.

Perseverance and Ingenuity arrived at Mars in mid-February, touchdown in an historic river delta following a 6 1/2-month flight.

Once Ingenuity’s flights are full, Perseverance will set off on its journey to search out any indicators of previous microscopic life. A robotic geologist, the rover will accumulate core samples of probably the most engaging rocks and set them apart for pickup by a future spacecraft a decade from now.

In one other first, an experiment on the rover efficiently transformed Mars’ carbon-dioxide-rich environment into pure oxygen this week. Five grams of oxygen was produced, based on NASA, the equal of 10 minutes of respiratory for an astronaut. Large-scale manufacturing at Mars might yield oxygen not just for air, but additionally rocket gasoline. More exams are deliberate over the subsequent two years.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely liable for all content material.

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