NASA's Ingenuity helicopter is all set to make its tenth flight on Mars and officials said that it could happen on July 24. Ingenuity, which arrived on the Red Planet aboard the Mars Perseverance rover on February 18, is the first to have flown on a terrestrial planet other than Earth. The space agency said that the rotorcraft's ninth flight was different from the ones it had undertaken before. Not only did it break the records of flight duration and cruise speed but also quadrupled the distance flown between two airfields.
NASA said in a note published on its website, that one of the defining aspects of Ingenuity's last flight, that lasted 2 minute and 46 seconds, was that it successfully negotiated a terrain called “Seitah.” The terrain would have been difficult to cover using a ground vehicle like the Perseverance rover. The tenth flight will investigate "Raised Ridges," a collection of rock features inside Mars' Jezero Crater, according to a report by Space.com.
On July 23, NASA also posted a picture of the "Little (Mars) Helicopter" on Instagram. The agency described the ninth flight as a "nail-biter." It said that the flight was explicitly designed to have science value by providing the first close view of major science targets that the rover will not reach for quite some time.
The post, furthermore, read, "This was made possible by a team of NASA Ames helicopter experts who assisted NASA JPL's Ingenuity team in making sure the technology demonstrator had the best chance for success in flying in the super-thin atmosphere of the Red Planet."
The photograph headlining the post was captured on June 15, 2021, by the Mars Perseverance rover using its left Mastcam-Z Camera, composed of a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast, the agency said.