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NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity flies for 7th time

NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity captures a photo of its shadow as it flies for the seventh time on the Red Planet. Photo courtesy of NASA
NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity captures a photo of its shadow as it flies for the seventh time on the Red Planet. Photo courtesy of NASA

June 9 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity moved to a new landing site about 115 feet away from its original position on the Red Planet during its seventh flight.

The space agency announced Tuesday's successful new flight, along with a photo the aerial drone shot of its own shadow during flight.

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"With each flight we gain additional real world info on the performance of the rotor and its thermal characteristics, which allows us to incrementally increase allowable flight times," NASA posted on Twitter.

RELATED NASA extends Mars helicopter mission to assist rover

The Perseverance rover landed on Mars carrying the helicopter Feb. 18. Ingenuity dropped to the surface on April 4 and made its historic first flight April 19.

During that first flight, the helicopter only raised itself 10 feet above the surface before landing after 39 seconds -- purely to demonstrate that a powered aircraft could fly on another planet.

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NASA's original plan for Ingenuity was to retire it at the end of April and possibly fly it so far and high that it would crash.

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But after several successful flights, the agency decided to extend the tiny 4-pound aircraft's mission, possibly aiding the rover's ability to find interesting rocks and features to explore.

NASA said Wednesday that Perseverance has begun its science phase and would drive to an overlook in Jezero Crater to find four places to drill rocks samples in a search for signs of ancient life.

Dispatches from Mars: Perseverance rover sends images

The Mars helicopter's 12th flight flight went to the geological wonder that is the “South Séítah” region. It climbed 32.8 feet for a total of 169 seconds and flew about 1,476 feet to scout the area for later scrutiny by the land rover.
RELATED China's Mars rover drives on surface a week after landing

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