NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter continues to push the boundaries of extraterrestrial flight.
The four-pound (1.8 kilogram) Ingenuity completed its 59th flight to Mars on Saturday (September 16), flying higher than ever before.
“Ingenuity sets a new record! The #MarsHelicopter successfully completed Flight 59 and flew at its highest altitude ever – 20 meters (66 feet). The rotor was in the air for 142.59 seconds,” officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. which controls the mission of the helicopter, published on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday (September 19).
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Flight 59 was full of hangovers; Ingenuity did not cover any horizontal distance during the jump, according to mission flight log.
Ingenuity landed with NASA’s Perseverance rover in February 2021 at the bottom of the 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer) Lake Crater, which once hid a large lake and river delta.
Perseverance is searching for signs of ancient Martian life in the Lake and collecting samples to be returned to Earth in the future. Ingenuity serves as a scout for the rover team, helping to find good routes for Perseverance’s journeys and identifying promising science targets to explore.
A rotorcraft does this job on an extended mission. Its primary mission was to demonstrate that aerial exploration is possible on Mars despite the planet’s thin atmosphere. Ingenuity completed this task over the course of five flights a few months after landing on the Red Planet, and then just flew.
During its 59 flights, Ingenuity traveled a total of 43,652 feet (13,304 m) and remained airborne for 106.5 minutes, according to the flight log.
Prior to Flight 59, the helicopter’s altitude was 59 feet (18 m). Its records for distance and duration of a single flight are 2,310 feet (704 m) and 169.5 seconds, set in April 2022 and in August 2021.