Ingenuity is alright: Perseverance filmed a helicopter flight video on Mars

NASA has released a video taken by the Perseverance rover on Mars, which shows how its faithful companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, rises into the air. Ingenuity made a short flight and descended to the Martian surface on August 3. The rover was close enough at that moment to film it using the onboard Mastcam-Z camera.

NASA’s Perseverance rover captured this video of the 54th flight of the Ingenuity Mars helicopter on August 3, 2023. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

The video demonstrates Ingenuity’s 54th flight, which consists of a simple takeoff, hover and landing. The helicopter gained an altitude of 5 meters in less than 30 seconds. The purpose of the flight was to check the serviceability of the Ingenuity navigation system. This happened after a recent incident when NASA lost contact with the helicopter for almost a week due to problems with signal transmission. Communication was restored, and the helicopter continued to work.

Ingenuity turned out to be a surprisingly hardy aircraft, even in the cold, dusty, inhospitable Martian environment. The helicopter, which traveled in the belly of the rover and landed on the surface of the planet in 2020, was originally designed to perform only five flights. The helicopter exceeded all expectations. Not only was it able to accurately take off and land, but it also continued to operate for more than 50 flights, despite challenges such as the cold winter season limiting the amount of energy that the helicopter’s solar panels could collect. 

Animation of a NASA helicopter flight on Mars

After the 54th flight shown in the video, Ingenuity made the next 55th flight on August 12. During it, the helicopter moved from its previous location called “Airfield Omicron” and covered a distance of 263 meters in 2.5 minutes, which led it to a new location, which was named “Airfield Pi”. Now the helicopter is located next to the Perseverance rover and is scouting routes to make it safer for the rover to travel on the inhospitable surface of the Red Planet.

Earlier, we reported on how NASA hid the loss of communication with the Ingenuity helicopter for six days.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time