After two months of silence, the Ingenuity Martian helicopter is back in touch

The Martian helicopter Ingenuity, with which contact was lost after the 52nd flight on April 26, 2023, has made contact with Earth again and is preparing for the next tests. This is reported by Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Communication with the copter was lost on April 26, 2023, during a landing approach after a 139-second flight at 363 meters. According to scientists, the reason for the loss of communication was a hill that blocked the direct line of sight between Perseverance and Ingenuity. On June 28, 2023, Perseverance climbed the hill and saw the helicopter again.

“The portion of Jezero Crater the rover and helicopter are currently exploring has a lot of rugged terrain, which makes communications dropouts more likely,” said JPL’s Josh Anderson, the Ingenuity team lead. “The team’s goal is to keep Ingenuity ahead of Perseverance, which occasionally involves temporarily pushing beyond communication limits. We’re excited to be back in communications range with Ingenuity and receive confirmation of Flight 52.”

Flight #52 is listed in the special flight logbook, and Ingenuity is already preparing for a new mission. The target for Flight 53 is an interim airfield to the west, from which the team plans to perform another westward flight to a new base of operations near a rocky outcrop the Perseverance team is interested in exploring.

As a reminder, the Ingenuity mission to Mars began on April 3, 2021. The helicopter made its first extraterrestrial flight on April 19, 2021. Ingenuity is only a technology demonstrator, so its mission involved only 5 flights and was supposed to last only 30 days.

As of now, Ingenuity has already made 52 flights, flying in the rarefied Martian atmosphere for 1 hour 33 minutes 46 seconds and covering 12,168 meters. The mission of the first extraterrestrial spacecraft has been going on for 824 days.

The longest (169.5 seconds) flight #12 took place on August 16, 2021. The furthest Ingenuity traveled was flight #25 (708.91 m), which took place on April 8, 2022. The maximum speed of 6.5 m/s was demonstrated during flight #49 on April 2, 2023. Maximum height of 18 m – during flight #50 on April 13, 2023.