NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has been undergoing several flights this year. This 2021 alone, it has already conducted four flights, but its latest trip to Mars is a major milestone for the space agency.

Besides the risky landing on Mars' surface, the fifth aerial trip is on a whole new level since it's a one-way flight to the red planet. The most recent achievement will open a new mission for the aircraft in another dimension.

NASA Ingenuity Helicopter Finishes One-Way Flight on Mars

NASA Perseverance Rover Lands On Mars
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)
JEZERO CRATER, MARS - FEBRUARY 18: In this handout image provided by NASA, the first high-resolution, color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing in the area known as Jezero crater on February 18, 2021 on the planet Mars. A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.

The robotic solar helicopter is a wonderful creation brought by NASA to venture further on the red planet's soil. Since 2019, it has managed to accomplish four flights, but its fifth and last voyage before carrying out a new mission is a one-of-a-kind feat when it comes to planetary exploration.

The usual visit will involve retracing the path back to the beginning point, but this time, the NASA Ingenuity helicopter has reached an unbelievable height then later landed on the Martian land.

Basically, what NASA sees in Ingenuity's experiment is only a showcase of a simple demo on the red planet. Yet, it seems that the aeronautics company will be making more operations with the space helicopter in the future.

Read Also: NASA Ingenuity Helicopter to Test its Fourth Flight Soon--Five Flights Expected to Operate Before Shifting to Main Mission

Most probably, NASA will be focusing on investigating the rust-colored surface, as well as conducting terrain mapping, scouting, and even letting the Ingenuity helicopter fly to distant locations that seem to be unreachable.

"The ability to fly the helicopter out into terrain that the rover cannot possibly traverse and bring back scientific data - this is extremely important for future missions that could combine a rover with a reconnaissance helicopter," NASA's Perseverance rover project scientist, Ken Farley stated in last week's meeting, Business Insider reported.

The Friday flight is something that surprised NASA. It is expected that the Ingenuity spacecraft should have made use of its rotor blades to fly at 16 feet above at 3:26 PM ET.

Moreover, it was foreseen that it would head to the south for 423 feet passing through the Martian craters and soil. The task will be much easier for the aircraft since it has conducted terrain mapping after its flight a week ago.

In a sudden turn of events, the NASA Ingenuity helicopter did not turn back. It would likely elevate for 33 feet in the air at the end of the flight path.

The NASA engineers predicted the altitude to be "impossible" for the robot since it was programmed to gradually decelerate while going on a landing on the red planet's Jezero crater. Indeed, the Ingenuity's first one-way flight is a great jumpstart for future helicopter missions.

What's Next for NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter?

According to a report by AP News, the first phase was now finished for the helicopter. Now, the Mars Perseverance rover could begin its brand-new mission. It will be looking for potential signs of microscopic life on the red planet. 

Before coming back to Earth, the core samples will be gathered.

Related Article: NASA Mars Ingenuity: Scientific Exploration Coming Soon, Would Not be 'Abandoned' After Surviving Tests

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Written by Joseph Henry

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