Take off to Mars! Perseverance rover captures amazing video of Ingenuity helicopter flight

The Martian drone made several mid-air movements on the Red Planet during its last flight.

Footage of Ingenuity, the Martian drone helicopter flying alongside the Perseverance rover mission, shows the mini-copter climbing into the Martian hills behind it.

According to a NASA JPL briefing, Ingenuity’s 47th flight on March 9 was to scout scientific targets in the southwest before guiding Perseverance in the direction of searching for evidence of ancient life on Mars. (will open in a new tab).

Related: How NASA will launch Mars samples from the Red Planet

The Ingenuity helicopter on Mars during its 47th flight on March 9, 2023 through the camera of the Perseverance rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The flight covered 1,444 feet (440 meters) of flight range and took Ingenuity to a new pit stop, nicknamed “Iota Airfield” in the flight log. (will open in a new tab), after several previous flights between existing airfields. Ingenuity’s top speed is a typical 11.9 mph (5.3 meters per second) and the drone remains in good health as it leaves for Flight 50 in a few weeks.

Ingenuity and Perseverance also worked together to send home more images of the flight than usual, using satellites in orbit around the Red Planet and NASA’s Deep Space Network, a busy set of antennas on Earth tracking deep space missions.

Footage captured by the downward-facing black-and-white navigation camera Ingenuity shows the Martian dunes zipping past them as the drone flies at 39 feet (12 meters), which is a typical height for these flights. Perseverance filmed Ingenuity hovering from afar with a Mast-Z long-range camera.

Ribbed dunes pass under Ingenuity on its 47th Mars flight on March 9, 2023. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Ingenuity does not only explore Perseverance, but also serves as a test bed for NASA and the European Space Agency’s sample return mission. If Percy can’t get the samples he’s collected to the waiting spacecraft in 2033 or so, two spare helicopters will pick up the twin lightsaber-shaped sample tubes the rover hid on the surface.

Perseverance and ingenuity are working together on an eight-month campaign called “Delta Top”, exploring a region that may have had a habitable river delta and lake billions of years ago.

Elizabeth Howell is co-author of Why Am I Taller? (will open in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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