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NASA wants to use its helicopter on Mars to support the Perseverance rover | Engadget

After make history and perform two additional flights, From NASA Ingenuity Mars helicopter may soon attempt even more ambitious forays into the skies of the Red Planet. Friday, NASA ad he plans to transition the rotorcraft to an operational role once it has completed its remaining test flights. NASA says these flights will involve more precise maneuvers, greater use of its photographic abilities and, most importantly, greater risk. That’s a substantial change for a craft that was originally meant to only show whether flying in Mars’ atmosphere was even possible.

When Ingenuity takes on these more ambitious missions, it will depend on how its next two outings unfold. The helicopter was to complete its fourth flight this week but had difficulty taking off Thursday. Early Friday afternoon, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said it was waiting for a data downlink from Mars to see if its second attempt at flight four went off without a hitch.

With Perseverance Scheduled primarily to make short trips over the next few weeks, NASA says it could send Ingenuity on short flights before the rover to spot potential routes, find roadblocks and photograph the terrain in front of it. NASA says these flights will not be critical to the success of the Perseverance mission, but will bring “significant benefits” to future missions.

Either way, Ingenuity’s last flight will take place before the end of August. That way, NASA has enough time to do whatever it plans to do with Perseverance before the end of the year, and the sun’s position between Earth and Mars makes communication between the two planets nearly impossible.

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