Teddy Tzanetos, MiMi Aung, and Bob Balaram of NASA's Mars Helicopter project observe a flight test. The image was taken on Jan. 18, 2019 as the flight model of the Mars Helicopter was tested in the Space Simulator, a 25-foot-wide (7.62 meter-wide) vacuum chamber at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
PASADENA, CA – The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s black-and-white navigation camera has provided dramatic video of its record-breaking 25th flight, which took place on April 8. Covering a distance of 2,310 feet (704 meters) at a speed of 12 mph (5.5 meters per second), it was the Red Planet rotorcraft’s longest and fastest flight to date. (Ingenuity is currently preparing for its 29th flight.)
“For our record-breaking flight, Ingenuity’s downward-looking navigation camera provided us with a breathtaking sense of what it would feel like gliding 33 feet above the surface of Mars at 12 miles per hour,” said Ingenuity team lead Teddy Tzanetos of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.
The first frame of the video clip begins about one second into the flight. After reaching an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters), the helicopter heads southwest, accelerating to its maximum speed in less than three seconds. The rotorcraft first flies over a group of sand ripples then, about halfway through the video, several rock fields. Finally, relatively flat and featureless terrain appears below, providing a good landing spot. The video of the 161.3-second flight was speeded up approximately five times, reducing it to less than 35 seconds.
The navigation camera has been programmed to deactivate whenever the rotorcraft is within 3 feet (1 meter) of the surface. This helps ensure any dust kicked up during takeoff and landing won’t interfere with the navigation system as it tracks features on the ground.
Ingenuity’s flights are autonomous. “Pilots” at JPL plan them and send commands to the Perseverance Mars rover, which then relays those commands to the helicopter. During a flight, onboard sensors – the navigation camera, an inertial measurement unit, and a laser range finder – provide real-time data to Ingenuity’s navigation processor and main flight computer, which guide the helicopter in flight. This enables Ingenuity to react to the landscape while carrying out its commands.
Mission controllers recently lost communication with Ingenuity after the helicopter entered a low-power state. Now that the rotorcraft is back in contact and getting adequate energy from its solar array to charge its six lithium-ion batteries, the team is looking forward to its next flight on Mars.
More about Ingenuity
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages the project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development. AeroVironment Inc., Qualcomm, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. Lockheed Space designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.
At NASA Headquarters, Dave Lavery is the program executive for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.
Greek-American Tzanetos in a previous interview with The National Herald spoke about his roots: “Both of my parents were born in Athens, and my grandparents are from Amorgos, Isaris, Richea, and Garea.”
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
O oceanic you sing and sail
White on your body and yellow on your chimeneas
For you're tired of the filthy waters of the harbors
You who loved the distant Sporades
You who lifted the tallest flags
You who sail clear through the most dangerous caves
Hail to you who let yourself be charmed by the sirens
Hail to you for never having been afraid of the Symplegades
What traveler has not been fascinated by the Greek islands, drawn by the Sirens’ song of a traveler’s dreams?
TNH and our video show ‘Mission’ marked the change of the season by transporting viewers into the heart of summer.
Sign up for a subscription
Want to save this article? Get a subscription to access this feature and more!
Have an idea for a story, or know of an event we should cover? We want to hear about it!
The National Herald is the paper of record of the Greek Diaspora community. Through independent journalism, we bring news to generations of Greek-Americans, with stories on the individual, community and international level. Visit and support our 106 year-old sister publication Εθνικός Κήρυξ.
You’re reading 1 of 3 free articles this month. Get unlimited access to The National Herald. or Log In