NASA has announced that plans for its Ingenuity Mars helicopter to make its sixth flight on the Red Planet next week are underway. This comes two weeks after the helicopter made its fifth flight on May 7 when it completed its first one-way trip, travelling 423 feet (129 metres), then reaching an altitude of 33 feet (10 metres) above its new landing field. The US space agency said the sixth flight is going to be the first to be executed during the helicopter’s operations demonstration phase and includes “scouting multiple surface features from the air and landing at a different airfield.”
This is the first time Ingenuity will be on its own, without the Perseverance rover watching over it. On all its previous five flights, the Perseverance rover had shared visuals of Ingenuity. Following the flight, data and images will be sent to Earth.
Shedding light on the rotorcraft’s planned flight, NASA said the helicopter will ascend to 33 feet (10 metres), and then head southwest for about 492 feet (150 metres). Once it achieves that distance, Ingenuity will start acquiring colour imagery of an area of interest, as it translates to the south about 50-66 feet (15-20 metres), NASA said in a note on its Mars mission website.