Ingenious

Look: Mars helicopter 10th flight sets a new "aerial record"

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter started to zip around Mars in early April 2021.

It was originally only expected to spend about a month conducting a series of test flights.

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Nearly four months later, the tiny robot is still regularly taking to the Martian skies — with increasingly impressive results.

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On July 24, Ingenuity marked its tenth flight with a couple of exciting milestones and another demonstration of just how valuable a partner it is to Perseverance.

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Ingenuity’s flight path centered on Raised Ridges — an area of Mars where NASA scientists think water may have once flowed.

As you could probably guess, Raised Ridges is rocky terrain — the kind that’s better to fly over than drive through.

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Ingenuity is in a sense repeating a trick from its ninth flight on July 5, when it captured this image.

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For flight nine, Ingenuity soared over the sandy dunes of the Séítah region, which Perseverance can’t currently navigate.

If there was ever any doubt, the last two flights prove the value of Perseverance’s eye in the sky.

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Still, flight 10 was anything but a repeat.

It marked the highest Ingenuity has ever flown, along its most complex flight path to date.

“A new aerial record!”

NASA/JPL
Including takeoff and landing, Ingenuity hit 10 waypoints on flight 10.NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

NASA/JPL-Caltech

With its latest flight, Ingenuity has flown more than a mile in total on Mars.

Not too shabby, considering we were cheering a 13-foot flight just three months ago.

Perseverance and Ingenuity have come a long (literal) way from their landing site in Jezero Crater.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

For now, Ingenuity remains parked on solid ground near Raised Ridges while NASA scientists examine the images and data captured on the last flight.

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They’re hoping to create stereo images of Raised Ridges, which could help chart a course for Perseverance through the treacherous terrain.

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As for Ingenuity itself, NASA hasn’t released details on the helicopter’s next flight, but it’s expected to continue its scouting mission for the foreseeable future — and likely break a few more records along the way.

Read more stories about NASA here.

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