NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter flies on Mars for the 56th time (Image Credit: Space.com)
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter keeps adding to its tally of off-Earth flights.
“The #MarsHelicopter completed Flight 56, traveling 1,334 ft (410 m) across the Martian surface at a maximum altitude of ~39 ft (12 m). The goal of this flight was to reposition the helicopter,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages the little rotorcraft’s mission, wrote via X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday (Aug. 31).
Ingenuity landed with NASA’s Perseverance rover inside Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021. The helicopter quickly aced its five-flight demonstration mission, showing that powered flight is possible on the Red Planet despite its thin atmosphere.
NASA then granted Ingenuity a mission extension, during which the chopper is serving as a scout for the life-hunting, sample-collecting Perseverance. The robotic duo are working together to explore the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero, which hosted a big lake and a river delta billions of years ago.
Ingenuity has racked up some impressive numbers during its time on the Red Planet. The little drone has covered a total of 42,369 feer (12,914 m) of ground on its 56 flights and stayed aloft for more than 100 minutes, mission team members wrote on Ingenuity’s flight log.
That flight log, by the way, states that Flight 56 occurred on Aug. 25. However, Ingenuity’s photo database dates the sortie to Aug. 26.