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Mars helicopter Ingenuity makes second, longer flight

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity flies for a second time Thursday, capturing this image with its black-and-white navigation camera. Photo courtesy of NASA
The Mars helicopter Ingenuity flies for a second time Thursday, capturing this image with its black-and-white navigation camera. Photo courtesy of NASA

ORLANDO, Fla., April 22 (UPI) -- The Mars helicopter Ingenuity flew for a second time Thursday on the Red Planet, a little higher and farther than its historic first flight on Monday, NASA announced.

The flight came at 5:33 a.m. EDT for 51 seconds. Ingenuity climbed to 16 feet, 6 feet higher than Monday's test, and then moved sideways for 7 feet before returning to the starting location.

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NASA also again tested the aim of Ingenuity's cameras.

"So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tells us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate," Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the helicopter, said in a news release.

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"We have two flights on Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity," he said.



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The space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., posted a black and white image from the helicopter on Twitter. More images were expected by midday.

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"Every image we get of the helicopter on Mars is special to me: After all, this has never been done before," said MiMi Aung, the program manager for the helicopter, in a blog post on JPL's website.

NASA eventually plans to test the limits of the aircraft to such an extent that it is likely to crash, officials have said.

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration and has only two more weeks of operations before the Perseverance rover mission moves on to its primary purpose -- drilling rock samples in a hunt for signs of past life on the planet.

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"There are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That's why we're here -- to make these unknowns known," said Håvard Grip, who carries the title of chief pilot for the remote-controlled mission.

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This image, taken by the Mars helicopter Ingenuity during its ninth flight, shows a rocky terrain in the Jezero Crater area on the Martian surface on July 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of NASA

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