After its success in proving the possibility of flying in the atmosphere of Mars, the US space agency “NASA” announced that it will extend the mission of the helicopter “Ingenuity” for an additional month, to support the mobile robot “Perseverance”.
Ingenuity will support the rover in its main mission of searching for signs of previous microbial life on Mars, by accompanying it, for example, in exploring sites of scientific interest that the robot cannot reach with its wheels, or in determining the safest path.
NASA Planet Study Director Laurie Glees said in a press conference that the mission of “Ingenuity” will change from being a “mission to demonstrate its technical ability” to “a mission to demonstrate its operational ability, through which we collect information on its use in providing operational support for the Perseverance vehicle.” .
Glaze said that flying vehicles may one day accompany human exploration missions as well, which enables this new stage to be tested.
In turn, chief engineer of the helicopter, Bob Palaram, reminded that it was not designed primarily for a “long mission”, referring to the harmful effect of repeated freezing and thawing cycles, and the helicopter had so far succeeded in all of its sorties, including the fourth carried out Friday, which is the longest, with a total of 266 meters. In 117 seconds.
The most prominent goal of this sortie was to locate a new location in which it could land safely very soon, as it has so far always returned to its main runway, but the case will not be the same in the fifth flight, which is expected to happen within about a week.
And “NASA” intends to carry out two more sorties of the helicopter over a period of 30 days, and the mission of the helicopter was scheduled to end a month after its start, as “NASA” was planning to make the rover then move quickly and far to reach an interesting area from which to take samples of rocks.
Thus, the helicopter cannot keep up with the pace of the mobile robot, as it must recharge itself with energy by solar panels between each sort of sort, according to “AFP”.