Just a few weeks before the October solar conjunction, the astronomical event that literally froze communications between Mars and Earth, the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity completed one of the most complex flights ever performed on the red planet. On that occasion, the NASA vehicle was located in the south of Sèitah and NASA decided to acquire more detailed images of some rocky ridges identified with the previous flight. But to do this it was necessary to dare by flying lower and slower, and this is how we chose not to exceed 8 meters in height while maintaining a speed of about 3.3 meters per second, 1 m / s less than the previous flight, finally covering a section of approximately 210 meters.
The US space agency then collected the data from the Perseverance rover, which was engaged in monitoring the event remotely, and created two unpublished videos which are the result of the collage of the many photos taken in sequence at a long distance. We must bear in mind that the NASA rover was at approximately 300 meters from the starting point of Ingenuity . Here is the first sequence.
The video offers a view of the departure and landing thanks to the help of the right Mastcam-z mounted on the mast, which allows you to zoom in on distant objects while maintaining high detail . The plume of dust raised by the helicopter during take-off is clearly visible, then the vehicle moves off-screen and then reappears later when it approaches the landing point. Although the locations seem to almost match, in reality they are divided by about 12 meters away.
We then have a further montage performed on the basis of the wide-angle images captured by the left Mastcam-Z. where at the price of a minor detail we have almost the entire flight sequence available, here it is.
The wide angle view emphasizes Ingenuity’s ability to maintain altitude during flight while adapting to ground conditions. In fact, we can see that, as it heads north-east towards the rocky ridge, Ingenuity increases the altitude to stay 8 meters from the surface. The moment we see him leave the field of view, Ingenuity is busy taking a dozen high-resolution photos of the area, then we see him return to finish the sequence and land in the new location.
Just over the weekend, Ingenuity’s 16th flight may have taken place with a shorter shift, of 109 approximately seconds, during which the helicopter would have covered approximately 109 meters thus approaching the original departure airfield, Wright Brothers Field. This is where the journey to the ancient river delta will begin, where NASA hopes to find fertile ground for collecting soil samples.