The Ingenuity helicopter on Mars has added another flight under its belt, the rotorcraft completed the eighth hop since it began demonstrations of aerial capability on Mars. Flying in the Jazero crater, the small bird flew about 77.4 seconds and landed at a new location.The rotorcraft is currently in the operations demonstration phase and targeting new landing sites in every hop to demonstrate the functioning of its navigational system.
In its latest flight, Ingenuity flew 160 meters south to a new location. The helicopter is now 133.5 meters away from the Perseverance rover.The helicopter has been relying on images captured by the HiRISE camera aboard Nasas Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify possible landing zones as it continues to create minuscule dust storms on another world. During its recent flight, the helicopter managed to capture its own shadow on the Martian surface.
The helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet on April 19 when it lifted off for the first time.PERSEVERANCE IN SCIENCE MODEWhile Ingenuity is continuing its operation demonstrations, the Perseverance rover, trundling on the surface, is in its science phase after successfully completing systems tests and supporting over a month of flight tests for the helicopter. The Perseverance team is driving the rover to a low lying overlook from where the SUV sized laboratory will survey some of the oldest geologic features in the crater.The Perseverance mission has so far achieved most of its targets that includes extracting oxygen from the thin, carbon dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere, rolling out Ingenuity, and in the process, it has captured over 75,000 images of the surface and other features. The laboratory is now beginning its key phase to look for signs of ancient microbial life on the floor of the crater, once believed to be a lake."The science goals of the mission are to study the Jezero region in order to understand the geology and past habitability of the environment in the area, and to search for signs of ancient microscopic life," JPL said in a statement.The team will identify and collect rock samples from the surface, which will be brought back to Earth for deeper analysis of the surface composition in future missions.