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NASA Mars helicopter Ingenuity sets altitude record on 35th flight

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Artist's concept of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Red Planet, with the agency's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover close by. Ingenuity completed its 35th flight on Mars over the weekend. Image courtesy NASA//JPL-Caltech
Artist's concept of NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter on the Red Planet, with the agency's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover close by. Ingenuity completed its 35th flight on Mars over the weekend. Image courtesy NASA//JPL-Caltech

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity completed its 35th flight over the weekend, setting a new altitude record of 46 feet in the thin Martian atmosphere.

The 4-pound chopper's previous record was 39 feet, according to NASA's Ingenuity flight log. The helicopter was deployed from NASA's Perseverance rover that landed on the Martian surface in February 2021.

Saturday's Ingenuity flight was its first since Nov. 22.

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The goal of this flight was to reposition the helicopter to make sure it stays in touch with the Perseverance rover. The rover serves as a communication link between the chopper and NASA's team on Earth.

According to NASA, the rover is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars in a 28-mile wide area of Jezero that is believed to have contained a lake and a river delta billions of years ago.

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NASA said in a Perseverance mission fact sheet that the rover "is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life."

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According to NASA, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter was sent to the planet to perform flight tests to determine if powered, controlled flight on Mars was possible.

Having proven that controlled flight is possible on Mars, the helicopter is currently now being used in an operations phase to support the rover's mission.

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