On the 91st Martian day, or sol, of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter performed its sixth flight. The flight was designed to expand the flight envelope and demonstrate aerial-imaging capabilities by taking stereo images of a region of interest to the west. Ingenuity was commanded to climb to an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) before translating 492 feet (150 meters) to the southwest at a ground speed of 9 mph (4 meters per second). At that point, it was to translate 49 feet (15 meters) to the south while taking images toward the west, then fly another 164 feet (50 meters) northeast and land.
Telemetry from Flight Six shows that the first 150-meter leg of the flight went off without a hitch. But toward the end of that leg, something happened: Ingenuity began adjusting its velocity and tilting back and forth in an oscillating pattern. This behavior persisted throughout the rest of the flight. Prior to landing safely, onboard sensors indicated the rotorcraft encountered roll and pitch excursions of more than 20 degrees, large control inputs, and spikes in power consumption.
Despite encountering this anomaly, Ingenuity was able to maintain flight and land safely on the surface within approximately 16 feet (5 meters) of the intended landing location.
Atop this ULA Atlas V rocket will be Perseverance, a car-sized rover which will explore an ancient river delta on Mars. Armed with a suite of six scientific instruments, Perseverance will primarily hunt for clues to the planet's distant past, and hopefully uncover signs of ancient life and habitability. The rover also carries an experiment that'll convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, a box-sized helicopter named Ingenuity that'll demonstrate powered flight on Mars, and a system that enables the rover to leave behind samples for later retrieval and return to Earth during NASA and ESA's ambitious sample return mission later this decade.Heliocentric N/A