Mars helicopter gets extra month of flying as rover’s scout

NASA’s little Mars helicopter has gotten a reprieve.

Instead of wrapping up flight checks originally of May, NASA is giving its Ingenuity helicopter no less than an extra month to sort out robust new terrain and serve as a scout for its companion rover, Perseverance.

Officials introduced the flight extension Friday, following three profitable flights over the previous month for the $85 million tech demo. Ingenuity was making an attempt its fourth flight Friday afternoon; Thursday’s effort failed as a result of of a identified software program error.

On its fifth flight in per week or so, the chopper will transfer to a brand new airfield on Mars, permitting the rover to lastly begin focusing by itself rock-sampling mission. The rover is in search of indicators of historical life at Jezero Crater, residence to a lush lakebed and river delta billions of years in the past.

“The helicopter team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, expects to chalk up a sixth and seven flight in May. The previous limit had been five. If all goes well, the helicopter mission could go even longer,” Ingenuity loves Mars mission supervisor MiMi Aung instructed reporters.

“It takes off and I almost feel the freedom that it feels.”

Now Perseverance will take precedence, scoping out the rocks across the February 18 touchdown website. Ingenuity hitched a journey to Mars on the rover’s stomach. Managers anticipate the rover to gather its first pattern in July for return to Earth in a decade.

The rover will proceed to relay knowledge and photos from the helicopter, however cease taking its personal chopper photographs. The two spacecraft have to be inside a half-mile (1 kilometre) of each other, for communication relay.

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