NASA Ingenuity Helicopter Flies Higher Than Ever on Mars

Each time, the small helicopter has proven that it can fly faster and higher in the thin atmosphere on Mars. On its last journey, Ingenuity has gone through one challenging ride as an aerial scout, breaking its own speed record. Now, the rotorcraft has reached new heights on what scientists call" its most complex flight profile yet."
Illustration of NASA's Ingenuity helicopter taking to the sky on Mars 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Ingenuity snaps picture of the rocky terrain underneath during its 10th flight on MarsViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called SéítahViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called SéítahViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called SéítahViews captured by Ingenuity of the Jezero Crater region called Séítah
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter, a small rotorcraft that landed with the Perseverance rover in February on the Red Planet, completed its 10th flight on Saturday, July 24th. The chopper surpassed the 1-mile (1.6 km) mark of its total flight distance when it soared over a rocky region in the Jezero Crater.

While 1 mile (1.6 km) doesn't sound like much back on Earth, the conditions on Mars (the planet has an atmosphere about 100 times thinner than Earth's) make it much more incredible. NASA has initially planned only a few flights for the rotorcraft before extending Ingenuity's role and assigning it with a new aerial scout role.

Its 10th flight marked a significant milestone, as the helicopter did not only fly twice as much the scientists predicted, but it also flew higher than ever, reaching a new record height of 40 feet (12 meters). NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes in an Instagram update that the helicopter targeted an area called "Raised Ridges," a section of the Séítah region filled with rocky terrain.

On its last journey, Ingenuity had to fly over an extremely difficult to cross terrain on Mars. If that trip proved to be challenging enough, this one was the helicopter's most" complex flight profile" yet, as it had to hit ten different waypoints on its way to the seventh base.

Ingenuity flew 310 feet (95 meters) due west of its takeoff zone, and the entire journey lasted roughly three minutes. The tiny rotorcraft was expected to take a number of images throughout the flight. This way, scientists will be able to get a close-up look at the rocks from the Raised Ridges area.

Aerial scouting will also help the Perseverance rover team decide what to do next. The team is considering sending the rover to the rocky site for a more in-depth investigation.
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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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