IUS: Hitting Double Digits, Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Has Exceeded Expectations

August 12, 2021

“This flight was specifically designed to hit some high-value science targets, to demonstrate, basically, aerial imaging of science sites.” Ben Pipenberg, senior aeromechanical engineer at AeroVironment, was explaining. “That was kind of the first time we’ve really done that in a targeted way, so this was a much more complicated flight.”

Pipenberg was extolling Mars Helicopter Ingenuity’s 10th foray since it first lifted off from the Red Planet’s surface back in April. Flight 10 was something of a watershed; it saw the little vehicle Pipenberg and his team had birthed in concert with NASA/JPL and other leading-edge firms pass the mile marker on distance flown while ranging further and further afield from its mid-February arrival on Mars in the belly of the Perseverance land rover.

Pippen laughed after hearing Ingenuity’s various destinations described as “a cruise ship on Mars.” Flight 10 came on July 24th, after a hoped-for initial set of five technology trips had been extended to operational demonstrations and journeys to other “airfields.” The 10th trip initiated what might be called an investigatory phase, setting an altitude record (40 feet) and visiting 10 waypoints en route to a rock formation called “Raised Ridges.” The color photos and 3D images it collected will inform Perseverance’s up-close exploration of the outcrop, in part to seek evidence for a watery past on Mars. That’s already begun: an 11th flight, on August 5th, positioned Ingenuity as a scout to support Perseverance’s work.

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About AeroVironment, Inc. (AV)

AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) provides technology solutions at the intersection of robotics, sensors, software analytics and connectivity that deliver more actionable intelligence so you can Proceed with Certainty. Headquartered in Virginia, AeroVironment is a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems and serves defense, government and commercial customers. For more information, visit www.avinc.com.


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