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Mars drone makes most complex flight to date

Mars drone makes most complex flight to date

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars drone made its most complex drone flight yet over the surface of the red planet on Sunday. The space agency reported this on Twitter. During the mars drone flight, ten different waypoints were visited. A record height of twelve meters was reached. During the flight, photos were taken that are used to map out a suitable route for Marslander Perseverance.

Mars drone makes most complex flight to date

The tenth flight made by the Mars drone was also the longest to date with almost three minutes of flying time. During the flight, a new milestone was immediately reached in terms of flight distance: the Ingenuity has now covered a total of more than one mile (about 1.6 km) through the thin Martian atmosphere.

During the final flight, the unmanned drone performed a complex mission consisting of ten different waypoints. It explored terrain where NASA engineers would like to steer the Mars rover Perseverance. By having the mars drone take pictures from different locations, the team hopes to be able to create a 3D representation of the terrain.

Mars drone makes most complex flight to date
The Ingenuity photographs its own shadow. Source: NASA/JPL

More than 107 sols for mars drone

The mars drone has now survived 107 Mars days (sols) since the aircraft was dropped from the belly of the Perseverance Mars rover onto the Mars surface. In total, the drone took 43 photos with a resolution of 13 megapixels. In all, the Mars drone has flown for more than 15 minutes, more than twice as long as the team originally planned.

It is interesting to note that the Mars drone has received two flight software upgrades from Earth since its first flight, among other things to improve flight performance. A small solar panel is installed on top of the drone to charge the batteries. Ingenuity cannot fly too far away from the Marslander or else the connection could break.

Mars drone makes most complex flight to date

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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