It has been over two months since NASA grounded Ingenuity for the Martian winter. The Martian helicopter has experienced over 101 sols of overnight freezing. So, to check if everything is still operational, the team booted up the little Martian helicopter and took it for a short hop across the surface in Ingenuity’s 30th flight on Mars. It was a success, and the Martian helicopter is back in action.
Now that Ingenuity has experienced its 30th flight, and it’s been successful, NASA can return to work observing the little spacecraft in action. Ingenuity hasn’t been up to much the past few months many of us weren’t even sure it would survive the harsh Martian winter.
That’s because winters on Mars get down to as low as -124 degrees Fahrenheit (-86 Celsius) at night. Those low temperatures can cause irreparable damage to the sensitive electronics and mechanical parts inside of Ingenuity. However, based on the successful little flight, Ingenuity seems to be in top working order.
It’s good to see the Martian helicopter working as intended, especially after the sad news of the Mars Insight lander dying earlier this year. NASA shared details of the flight on its official website, where it noted that telemetry downlinked after the initial two tests showed that the helicopter was ready to fly again, and so it did.
The 30th Ingenuity flight was similar to the helicopter’s second flight—a short hop across the Martian surface. This time, however, they only flew the helicopter around seven feet (two meters) before setting it down again. Of course, it isn’t a far distance, but it’s still notable because of the harsh winters that Ingenuity has managed to survive.
Now that we know Ingenuity is working again, NASA can get back to studying how flight works on Mars. This will let the agency prepare future missions with helicopters, like its Martian sample retrieval mission, to take advantage of the thinner atmosphere better.