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Mars helicopter Ingenuity completes 16th flight

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity completed its 16th flight over the weekend, the space agency announced Monday.

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the helicopter captured color images of Mars' surface during the flight, which saw it travel 116 meters northeast for 109 seconds.

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"Mars helicopter continues to thrive!" the lab wrote on Twitter.

The 16th flight over seven months far exceeds NASA's original plans to send the helicopter on just five flights in 30 days on Mars.

It first landed on Mars in February and flew for the first time in April, helping NASA plot the path of the Perseverance rover as it explores the Jezero Crater, drilling rock samples to hunt for signs of ancient life.

NASA announced at the end of April that it would keep a small staff on the Ingenuity team to plan future flights but Teddy Tzanetos, the NASA Ingenuity team lead, said "any flight could be our last," noting the helicopter is made with commercially available, or "off the shelf," components.

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