Ingenuity rose to a record height above Mars

The NASA Ingenuity helicopter continues to set records during flights in the atmosphere of Mars. The 1.8-kilogram Ingenuity managed to rise 14 meters above the red surface of Mars on December 3. With this, it set a new altitude record during its 35th successful flight. The previous record was 12 m, achieved during the three previous flights.

Animation of a NASA Ingenuity helicopter flight on Mars

During Saturday’s flight, Ingenuity overcame about 15 m of horizontal distance, which lasted 52 seconds. If we sum up all 35 completed flights, the helicopter covered a total of 7,407 meters and stayed in the air for 59.9 minutes. 

The flight on December 3 was the second after the software update. This update, which took several weeks to install, provided Ingenuity with two new features: avoiding danger when landing and using digital altitude maps to help with navigation.

Perseverance Help

Ingenuity landed with the NASA Perseverance rover at the bottom of the Jezero crater in February 2021. Soon the helicopter took off from the inside of the rover and began a campaign to prove that heavier-than-air vehicles can fly in the thin atmosphere of Mars thanks to propellers. The initial stage of the technology demonstration lasted less than a month and consisted of only five flights. But NASA soon allowed the helicopter to extend its mission. Now the current goals are focused on expanding the boundaries of flights to Mars and conducting exploration for Perseverance.

The rover is looking for signs of ancient life on Mars at the bottom of a 45-kilometer-wide lake, where billions of years ago there was a lake and a river delta. Perseverance also collects and stores a number of samples, which, as part of a joint campaign by NASA and the European Space Agency, will return them to Earth in 2033.

Earlier we reported on how an unexpected “passenger” turned out to be on board Ingenuity.

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