The US space agency has extended the mission indefinitely after its great success. The helicopter became a companion to the rover’s rover “Perseference” tasked with monitoring traces of ancient life on Mars.
“Everything is going well,” said Josh Ravish, who is in charge of the mechanical engineering team at Ingenuity. “We’re doing better than expected on Mars.”
Hundreds have contributed to the project, although only about ten people are still involved in the project. Josh Ravich joined the team five years ago.
“When I had the opportunity to start working on the helicopter, I had the same reaction as many people who wondered ‘would it be possible’ to fly over Mars,” he says.
This is a huge challenge because the air on Mars is only 1% denser than the Earth’s atmosphere. For comparison, this is similar to flying a helicopter at an altitude of thirty kilometers on the ground.
The Ingenuity helicopter was also forced to resist a missile launch and landing on the Red Planet on February 18, after seven months during which it remained attached to the mobile robot, which it later separated from.
Another difficulty is to survive the icy nights of Mars by raising its temperature thanks to solar panels that charge its batteries during the day. It also had to fly independently thanks to a series of sensors, since delays in communication between Earth and Mars impede sending real-time instructions.