Mars Helicopter Lives! First flight in 2 months

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has braved winter temperatures of -86 degrees and long darkness to make its first flight in two months.

Ingenuity, the brave autonomous helicopter from Mars, is back. Like NASA in a blog entry and via Twitter

, the Mars helicopter made a small hop after a two-month break. The mini-flight was just so the NASA team could check the functionality of Ingenuity’s systems and shake some dust off the solar cells.

The reason for the long break

NASA put Ingenuity into a dormant state to survive the Martian winter at Jezero Crater. At night, temperatures drop to -86 degrees Celsius. On the one hand, Ingenuity has to heat up particularly intensively in order to keep its devices from freezing, on the other hand it is dark longer in winter, so that the solar cells can supply less electricity. Especially since these are also covered with dust because of the winter storms. However, the power consumption during the day is actually sufficient to let Ingenuity make at least a few small hops.

This jump, undertaken over the past weekend (20/21 August), was Ingenuity’s 30th flight. The Mars helicopter made its 29th flight on June 11th. Flight operations had been interrupted for that long.

This is how the flight should be

The short flight last weekend was preceded by two test runs of the rotors on August 6th. and on 15.8. preceded, but where Ingenuity has not taken off. The 30th flight was then planned for the afternoon at a height of 5 meters. Ingenuity should only fly two meters and the entire flight should only take about 33 seconds – according to the planning. NASA does not write whether these values ​​were observed exactly, but the flight obviously ran without any problems.

If the weather conditions improve over the next few weeks and the solar cells can supply more electricity, Ingenuity is expected to make more flights. On top of that, the NASA engineers even want to install a software update in September! This should enable Ingenuity to better deal with the bottom structures of the river delta over which it is to fly in the coming months.

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