NASA’s “Ingenuity” helicopter on Mars flew its first mile on the Red Planet.
On Saturday (July 24), the small helicopter crossed the 1.6 km mark when it flew over a rocky area called Raised Ridges outside its home in Jezero Crater. This mission was the 10th and largest ever by Ingenuity to arrive on Mars with NASA’s Perseverance rover in February. Ingenuity’s maiden flight took place in April.
“Thanks to the successful flight of the Mars Helicopter, we have covered its total distance of 1 mile to date,” representatives of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Wrote in an Instagram update late Saturday. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is home to the Mission Control Center of Perseverance and Ingenuity.
Video: See the 10th and highest Ingenuity flight on Mars
Flight 10 was the most challenging for Ingenuity, as the helicopter had 10 different waypoints over which it flew over its Raised Ridges target. It reached a maximum altitude of 40 feet (12 meters), a new record altitude, and flew about 310 feet (95 meters). From takeoff to landing, the entire flight lasted 165.4 seconds. It’s just under 3 minutes.
During the flight, Ingenuity was expected to capture a series of images, including ones that could help scientists create stereo images of the rocks of the Raised Range. The ridges are the area where scientists plan to send the Perseverance rover.
“We will be filming Raised Ridges because this is an area that Perseverance scientists find intriguing and plan to visit sometime in the future,” mission managers told JPL in a July 23 status update.
Ingenuity is now parked at its seventh airfield on Mars, where mission scientists study telemetry and flight images.
Originally designed for four missions to Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter is the first vehicle ever attempted to fly in another world. 4 lbs. (1.8 kg) the helicopter arrived on Mars folded in the belly of the Perseverance rover, and was originally expected to make just four flights in 30 Martian days (called salts) as a proof of concept.
The solar-powered helicopter completed its main mission in April, and NASA expanded its operations. In this extended phase, ingenuity is used for exploration to find points of interest for the Perseverance rover.
“Aerial reconnaissance is helping the Perseverance rover team decide what steps to take next,” JPL officials wrote in Saturday’s update.
Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@ or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.