“Off To New Places” – Mars Helicopter Prepares For Fifth Flight, A One-Way Trip On Friday

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter is preparing to explore a new region of the Red Planet today on its fifth scheduled flight (3:26 p.m. EDT, or 12:26 p.m. PDT), with flight data coming in around 7:31 p.m. EDT (4:31 p.m. PDT). 

If all goes well, the 4-pound helicopter will climb 16 feet, then retrace flight four, heading south 423 feet. But instead of heading back to home base, the aircraft will soar to an altitude, a new height record, of 33 feet, where it will take color (as well as black-and-white) photos of the Red Planet. This flight is expected to last about 110 seconds and will be a one-way trip. 

“But instead of turning around and heading back, we’ll actually climb to a new height record of 33 feet (10 meters), where we can take some color (as well as black-and-white) images of the area,” Josh Ravich, Ingenuity mechanical engineering lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, wrote in a blog post Thursday. 

“After a total flight time of about 110 seconds, Ingenuity will land, completing its first one-way trip,” Ravich added. “When it touches down at its new location, we will embark on a new demonstration phase — one where we exhibit what this new technology can do to assist other missions down the road.”

Ingenuity landed with NASA’s Perseverance rover on Feb. 18 and deployed two months later from the belly of the land-based robot. The helicopter has already completed four flights in three weeks and plans more daring flights as an aerial exploration scout. 

More developments will come this evening when NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory will announce how the flight went on its Twitter account. 

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