Video captures NASA Ingenuity Mars helicopter’s record-breaking flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has had a record-breaking trek across the Martian surface. The tiny…

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has had a record-breaking trek across the Martian surface. The tiny exploration drone took its first flight on April 19, 2021. Since then, it has made a number of flights. On top of being the first aircraft in human history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet, Ingenuity continues to break its flight records again and again.

Ingenuity breaks more flight records during its 25th flight

Back on April 8, 2022, NASA’s Mars Ingenuity took into the air for its 25th flight. While a milestone in and of itself, Ingenuity also broke two records during that flight.

First, it broke its duration record, staying in the air for just over two minutes and 41 seconds. Secondly, it broke its speed record. The helicopter flew at 12MPH for the duration of the flight, crossing over 2,310 feet of the planet’s surface.

Ingenuity has flown three more times since that day. However, NASA just recently shared footage of the Ingenuity’s latest flight record. The almost three-minute-long video has been sped up quite dramatically, lasting only 35 seconds in the video.

The video also doesn’t show the beginning or the end of the flight. But that’s because the navigation camera switches off when the helicopter gets within three feet of the surface. The helicopter was designed to do this so that dust from the planet doesn’t interfere with the navigational system.

Still, there really isn’t much to see from the camera that Ingenuity utilizes. While breaking the flight record is exciting, the real discoveries will come with Perseverance’s ongoing mission to learn about ancient life on Mars. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Ingenuity isn’t important.

Ingenuity’s place in history

From NASA’s blog: “This image of Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight on May 22, 2021.” Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Part of what makes Ingenuity’s continued breaking of flight records so important is the part it plays in the future of planetary exploration. Flight is one of the quickest ways to explore and travel. As such, getting an automated system up and running that can take off, and fly at considerable speeds and for long durations is vital to future exploration of Mars and other planets.

NASA has a lot of big plans to look deeper into exoplanets using the James Webb space telescope. But, with drones like Ingenuity, we could get an even closer look using aircraft along the surface of the planet. And Ingenuity’s tenacity to survive a near-death experience, as well as a more recent power scare this year, have proven that NASA’s engineering can hold up.

All that’s left to do now is appreciate the Ingenuity’s continued breaking of flight records, and all that it can teach us about flying on other planets.

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