A NASA video shows how it pushed the Mars copter to its limits

NASA/JPL

It's been two weeks since NASA's Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, made its final trip to the red planet.

On its 72nd and final flight, it was landed safely due to damage to one of its propellers. But despite the disappointment, it is widely recognized that Intelligence has achieved much since its arrival at Mars in February 2021.

Not only was it the first flight to achieve controlled, powered flight on another planet, but as explained in a new video released by NASA on Wednesday, Intelligence was pushed to test its own aerodynamic limits, breaking its own records in several cases. For speed, distance and altitude.

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Speaking from the Air Vehicle Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Travis Browne, the chief engineer for Intelligence who oversaw the rotorcraft's mission, discussed some of the milestone moments.

For example, Brown explained how Intelligence was originally expected to make five flybys within 30 days, but flew by the Red Planet 72 times in nearly two years.

Once the aircraft was shown to be capable of achieving controlled flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars, the team cleverly attached the vehicle to Perseverance, a ground-based rover that arrived on Mars at the same time. It tested new ways to target the intelligence's high-resolution camera, and the aerial images it captured helped the Perseverance team plan safe and efficient routes for the rover as it scoured the Martian surface for evidence of ancient microbial life.

Brown said the Ingenuity program really began in earnest with Flight 49, when the aircraft set new speed and altitude records. With Flight 62, Ingenuity achieved its highest and fastest flights, reaching a height of 24 meters and a speed of 22.4 mph.

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The team also tested different landing speeds for the flight — faster ones to save power and slower touchdowns to reduce landing load — and suggested conducting first-of-its-kind studies of the planet's wind and dust movement, which could provide new insights. Martian atmosphere.

Everything the intelligence team learned from its 72 flights will be applied to the design of next-generation rotorcraft destined for Mars and other planets in our solar system, Brown said.

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