NASA JPL is celebrating the successful completion of another flight for the Ingenuity Mars helicopter. The tweet announced that the seventh flight had been completed overall, which is also the second flight for operations during the demo phase for the helicopter. During its seventh flight, the helicopter flew for 62.8 seconds and traveled approximately 106 meters south.
Ingenuity set down successfully in a new landing spot during the flight and took the black and white navigation photo seen above during the flight. NASA JPL did give out a bit more detail in the tweet in response to someone who asked how many more flights might be planned and if there were any signs of wear on the helicopter so far. A JPL team member said that there were no signs of aging yet on the actuator system of the Ingenuity helicopter.
The team member says with each flight, additional real-world info on the performance of the rotor and its thermal characteristics is gained allowing the team to increase allowable flight times incrementally. Thankfully, there were no anomalies noted during the flight.
The Mars helicopter suffered an anomaly during its sixth flight that made it unstable, but it landed safely. During that six flight, the helicopter began to tilt back and forth towards the end of the mission. The aircraft made it about 150 meters into the flight before the oscillating pattern started.
NASA said the oscillation was caused when a single frame from the navigation camera was lost, leading to every image taken after that lost frame having an incorrect timestamp. An incorrect timestamp meant the navigation algorithm was using images that didn’t accurately represent its position resulting in the flight anomaly.