Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will soon conduct its ninth flight

NASA JPL recently gave up some information about plans for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter's ninth flight. The flight was expected to occur no earlier than yesterday, July 4, 2021. NASA JPL outlined some of the limits that it intends to push on that ninth flight in a tweet published late last week.

The team expects Ingenuity to fly for 2041 feet at a speed of 5 m/s. The flight will also have a duration of about 167 seconds, and NASA plans to take color images of the flight. So far, flight images have been black-and-white. Ingenuity has been performing extremely well on its test flights so far. The only glitch the helicopter has encountered occurred on its sixth test flight when it encountered an anomaly that left the helicopter unstable during flight.

Fortunately for NASA and the Ingenuity team, the helicopter was able to land safely, completing its sixth test flight. A later investigation concluded that a frame from the navigation camera was lost, leaving the helicopter unsure exactly where it was, resulting in pronounced oscillations during flight. The glitch was solved, and the next test flight went smoothly.

Color images of the ninth test flight will be welcomed by space fans and those following Ingenuity closely. Previously, NASA shared a 3D video of the helicopter's third flight, and flight operations are progressing rapidly. The seventh test flight was completed early last month, and the eighth test flight was completed successfully only weeks later.

Now that NASA has proven rotorcraft can operate and conduct explorations on Mars, future missions may benefit from flying aircraft fitted with sensors allowing them to explore and conduct science operations on their own. However, it's unclear at this time when the next NASA mission equipped with a helicopter might launch.