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NASA Ingenuity Helicopter Ready To Fly Over The Hills Of Music

NASA Ingenuity helicopter was flown for just 18 seconds, up and down, to test its new hazard avoidance camera technology and digital elevation maps on Mars. NASA's Ingenuity drone, which is exploring Mars with the Perseverance rover, will soon begin flying over the nearby hills.

Daisy-Mae Schmitt
Dec 15, 202278 Shares11123 Views
NASA Ingenuity helicopterwas flown for just 18 seconds, up and down, to test its new hazard avoidance camera technology and digital elevation maps on Mars. NASA's Ingenuity drone, which is exploring Mars with the Perseverance rover, will soon begin flying over the nearby hills.
They are now sitting on the floor of Jezero Crater, but they want to climb out of the crater together. Since then, software updates have been implemented to let the drone, affectionately named Ginny, handle steeper terrain.
In the year 2021, Ginny made history by becoming the first vehicle to accomplish powered flight on another planet. It was only a simple up-and-down maneuver to a height of 3 meters, but it demonstrated the concept.
After then, the helicopter went on to make 35 additional flights of greater altitude or distance. Not bad for what was just meant to be a brief presentation of technology. Nasa might have missed out on some incredible prospects by not investing in a reconnaissance chopper.

Flight 34

Flight 34 may have been average this year. Yesterday's 18-second flight, shorter than Ingenuity's first, popped up to a little over 16 feet (5 meters), hovered, and landed. Despite the flight's simplicity, the crew is enthused about Ingenuity's future.
The operations team has been deploying a big helicopter software upgrade for weeks. Ingenuity now has landing hazard avoidance and digital elevation maps for navigation.
Ingenuity was planned to function on Mars in flat, smooth terrain like Wright Brothers Field as a technological showcase. Ingenuity and Perseverance explored Jezero Crater across more difficult terrain than expected.
Ingenuity pilots have had to locate airfields without rocks or other barriers to land the vehicle safely. Jezero Crater is rocky, thus safe airfields are few! This version integrates landing hazard avoidance using Ingenuity's downward-facing navigation camera.
Ingenuity will find the safest visible landing place in flight. Ingenuity will thereafter land at this chosen place. Ingenuity can now securely land in rockier terrain, giving pilots additional landing places.
Ingenuity's navigation algorithms assumed the vehicle was flying over level terrain. This flat-ground assumption leads Ingenuity's navigation algorithms to assume the helicopter is swerving over hills, prompting it to veer to correct the mistake. The crew must choose big airfields because rugged terrain causes navigation problems on extended flights.
This new software update corrects this flat-ground assumption by employing digital elevation maps of Jezero Crater to assist the navigation program discern topographical changes from vehicle movement. Ingenuity's precision improves, letting pilots target smaller airfields.
Flight 34, Ingenuity's first with this software upgrade, may appear insignificant. This modest mission will let the crew test these new capabilities on Mars. Ingenuity becomes a more powerful vehicle and Perseverance scout with the upgrade.

Watch the Ingenuity helicopter's first flight on Mars

Ingenuity Helicopter Explores Mars

As an added bonus, the Ingenuity drone can also be used for scientific research by taking aerial photographs of rock outcrops from several angles. This gives researchers the ability to generate 3D models of interesting themes for further study.
Currently, the drone aids Perseverance by scouting the upcoming course, allowing the wheeled robot and its "backseat drivers" on Earth to make more informed route decisions. Currently, engineers on Earth are analyzing satellite photos to locate secure landing spots.
But it's harder to correlate orbital imagery to small rocks on the ground in the hills. That's where this other feature comes in, where, right before landing, Ingenuity itself can take a look at the ground and figure out where the rocks are and avoid them.- Håvard Grip, Chief pilot
All of Ginny's flights are recorded in the chief pilot's log book. It has reached capacity.
We were only ever going to fly five times. We thought, well, a book with only five pages is just gonna look too silly. And so we put a bunch of extra pages in there just so it would look more like a real book. But guess what? We are out of pages. Ingenuity has made its 36th flight, and, coincidentally, that flight also marked the threshold for Ingenuity having spent a full hour in skies of Mars.- Håvard Grip, Chief pilot

Final Words

It's going to become a lot more challenging in the years ahead. After scattering rock samples on the ground for missions scheduled for the end of the decade to gather and return to Earth, Perseverance will go for higher terrain. Ingenuity will come along for the ride as well.
It will hike to the edge of Jezero Crater, which is located above the 40-meter-high deposits of an old river delta feature.
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