Click for interactive map.
In an update posted today written by Ingenuity pilot Martin Cacan, he outlined the engineering team’s goal for the Mars’ helicopter’s next flight, its nineteenth.
This flight, which will take place no earlier than Friday, Jan. 7, takes the scout vehicle out of the South Séítah basin, across the dividing ridge, and up onto the main plateau. The precise landing target for Flight 19 is near the landing site of Flight 8. Images taken during Flight 9 by the rotorcraft’s high-resolution Return-To-Earth (RTE) camera were used to select a safe landing zone.
…Spanning 207 feet (63 meters), this flight will last about 100 seconds at a groundspeed of 2.2 mph (1 meter per second) and altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) while taking 9 new RTE images. The final act of the flight is to turn nearly 180 degrees to flip the RTE camera to a forward-facing orientation for future flights toward the river delta. [emphasis mine]
The green line in the map to the right indicates the exact path, going about 207 feet to the northeast. The red dot marks the location of Perseverance on December 8, 2021, the last time the Perseverance science team updated their map showing the rover’s travels.
The highlighted words are the most important. Cacan also said this in his update:
The current mission goal is to reach the Jezero river delta to aid the Perseverance rover in path planning and scientific discovery.
Assuming the helicopter continues to function correctly, their next flights will apparently be aimed towards the delta. Whether that path will follow the planned route marked by the dashed yellow line, or cut straight across, is not clear. If the latter, that implies they have revised Perseverance’s planned route so that it also cuts straight across from about the point of Ingenuity’s next landing site.
More likely Cacan was not speaking literally, and that the route Ingenuity will take to the delta will follow the planned route, around that crater to the northeast.
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