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The helicopter on Mars just flew again after surviving an emergency landing

This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023.

Enlarge / This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

By the standard of some of its previous flights, the most recent voyage of NASA’s intrepid Ingenuity helicopter on Mars was nothing special. Over a period of 24 seconds, the small helicopter rose to an altitude 5 meters above the red planet’s dusty surface and then touched back down in the same spot.

During some of its past flights, Ingenuity has flown for nearly three minutes at a time and traversed as far as 700 meters across Martian terrain. In fact, after landing on Mars more than two years ago as part of the Perseverance mission, the helicopter is arguably one of NASA’s greatest exploration feats of all time.

Mission success for Ingenuity was completing five relatively short flights. However, since its first test flight in April 2021, the helicopter has exceeded all expectations by flying more than 50 different sorties across Mars and surviving long and dark winters.

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