WATCH: NASA’s Mars Helicopter Makes Record-Breaking Flight

The small helicopter, Ingenuity, recorded its longest flight across the surface of Mars.

NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, sent back on-board video of its 25th and longest flight above the Martian surface.

The flight, made on April 8, spanned a distance of more than 2,000 feet at 12 miles per hour, making it the longest and fastest extraplanetary flight to date. Video of the flight was captured using Ingenuity’s on-board navigation camera, which shows the helicopter’s shadow traveling across the Martian sand dunes.

“For our record-breaking flight, Ingenuity’s downward-looking navigation camera provided us with a breathtaking sense of what it would feel like gliding 33 feet above the surface of Mars at 12 miles per hour,” said Ingenuity Team Lead Teddy Tzanetos in a statement.

Ingenuity broke its first record by completing the first powered flight on another planet. The rotorcraft was sent to Mars aboard the Perseverance rover in February 2021.

The autonomous flight reached an altitude of 33 feet and accelerated to maximum speed within three seconds. The helicopter’s shadow can be seen casted over rocks and sand throughout the black-and-white video.

Each flight is preplanned by “pilots” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where the commands are then sent to the Perseverance rover, which then relays the inputs to the helicopter. Ingenuity’s on-board sensors allow it to react to Martian terrain in real-time, as to avoid unplanned collisions with potential obstacles.

Following a loss in communication with mission controllers, the rotorcraft entered a low-power state, where it began recharging its six lithium-ion batteries via a solar array. Now fully charged, Ingenuity is preparing for its 29th flight across Mars.


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