The tiny Ingenuity helicopter continues to explore Mars, preparing for its 47th flight. That’s a pretty amazing achievement, considering it was originally designed to make just five flights and has had to deal with changing seasonal conditions, including colder temperatures and lower atmospheric pressure. more low.
Despite the inhospitable environment, the helicopter continues to operate and recently made its longest flight in almost a year. And now, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has shared an image taken by Ingenuity during its 45th flight that shows an otherworldly sunset, as the sun slips over the Martian horizon.
The image was taken on February 22, when Ingenuity was making another long flight, traveling more than 1,600 feet from a place called Airfield Zeta to another called Airfield Eta. During a 145-second trip, the helicopter rose to a maximum altitude of nearly 40 feet and reached a top speed of more than 13 miles per hour.
During his trip, he took the image with his high-resolution color camera, which typically takes images below the horizon. This is because she is angled 22 degrees below the horizon to focus on the ground, where most useful targets are found (such as rocks or regolith formations). However, the helicopter rocks a bit during the flight, so on rare occasions the camera will tilt up to view the sky, and in this case, it managed to photograph the sun as well.
NASA shared the image while announcing that Ingenuity is preparing for another flight, this Flight 47. (Flight 46 took place on February 25 and saw Ingenuity cover another 1,400 feet.)
“Forward and up, Wit!” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in Twitter. “#MarsHelicopter will attempt Flight 47 no sooner than March 9. It is expected to fly 430 meters (1,411 feet) southwest to reposition and image science targets en route.”
The announcement was made on March 9, but there is still no update on whether Flight 47 has already taken place. The plan is for the helicopter to cover another 1,400 feet in about 140 seconds of flight, heading southwest. And Ingenuity will take images of more science targets along the way.