NASA’s Ingenuity has successfully concluded its second flight. After its historic first-ever powered flight on another world in the pinkish skies of Mars earlier this week, the Mars helicopter has once again lifted off and hovered, this time higher and for longer.
The flight took place at 5:30 am EDT (2:30 am PDT) today, April 22. The mission team planned a slightly more complex flight this time for the small vehicle. It climbed to 5 meters (16 feet), 2 meters (7 feet) more than the first flight. It then hovered before moving sideways 2 meters, something not attempted before.
After sliding away from the center of “Wright Brothers Field” as its launch area has been named, Ingenuity also rotated pointing its color camera in different directions. It then shuffled back to the central position and hovered back down.
“So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. “We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”
"Every image we get of the helicopter on Mars is special to me: After all, this has never been done before," MiMi Aung, Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Project Manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a NASA blog post ahead of the second flight.
"But I have to say that of all the images, perhaps the one that will stay with me the most is that image from the helicopter’s navigation camera: Taken when the rotorcraft was 1.2 meters in the air, the black-and-white image shows the shadow of our beloved Ingenuity, with her two rotors, over the surface of Wright Brothers Field.
While it’s up to others to decide the image’s historical significance of this moment, when I first saw it, I immediately thought of the picture Buzz Aldrin took of his boot print on the lunar surface. That iconic image from Apollo 11 said 'we walked on the Moon'; ours says 'we flew on another world.'”