NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity is ready for another epic Red Planet flight.
Ingenuity, which arrived on Mars with NASA’s Perseverance rover in February and made history Monday (April 19) with the first-ever powered flight on another world, will attempt its second flight Thursday (April 22) at 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT), MiMi Aung, Ingenuity project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, wrote in a status update.
“We’re looking to go a little bigger this time,” Aung wrote in the update. While Monday’s flight involved Ingenuity hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the Red Planet’s surface, Thursday’s flight will see Ingenuity go a bit higher, to 16 feet (5 m), Aung said. Ingenuity will then tilt slightly and move sideways for 7 feet (2 m), hover in place and turn a few times so that its color camera can snap some images before returning to its Martian airfield for a landing, she added.
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According to Aung, the images from Ingenuity’s second flight should begin to arrive at approximately 9:21 a.m. EDT (1321 GMT).
“The imagery of the first flight Perseverance captured with its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers from its vantage point about 210 feet (64 meters) away at ‘Van Zyl Overlook’ was spectacular,” Aung said. “We’re expecting more phenomenal imagery on this second flight test.”
NASA has not yet announced any live webcasts to reveal the imagery from Ingenuity’s second flight, as it did with the first flight on Monday. Images will be posted on NASA’s Ingenuity page when they come in.
After Thursday’s flight, Aung and her colleagues plan to fly the Mars helicopter at least three more times in the coming two weeks, with each flight getting more complex and ambitious.
And Ingenuity does everything autonomously. Due to the signal delay between Earth and Mars, Ingenuity team members cannot control the helicopter in real-time; all of its maneuvers must be programmed in advance.
NASA will beam the commands for Ingenuity’s Thursday flight to the Perseverance rover on Wednesday night. The helicopter is scheduled to take off at 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT), but it will take about four hours for NASA to receive data and images from the flight.
Email Hanneke Weitering at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.