As reported by NASA, the journey spanned 1,344 feet (410 meters) across the planet's rocky terrain, reaching a peak altitude of 39 feet (12 m).
Mars has become a second home for NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter. Adding another feather to its cap, the airborne explorer registered its 56th sortie on the Red Planet.
On Aug. 26, the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) sensation soared across the Martian atmosphere for nearly 2.5 minutes. The journey spanned 1,344 feet (410 meters) across the planet’s rocky terrain, reaching a peak altitude of 39 feet (12 m). This specific mission aimed to strategically reposition the helicopter, as confirmed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, the brains behind Ingenuity’s operations. The update was shared via X (previously known as Twitter) on Aug. 31.
The #MarsHelicopter completed Flight 56, traveling 1,334 ft (410 m) across the Martian surface at a maximum altitude of ~39 ft (12 m). The goal of this flight was to reposition the helicopter.
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) August 31, 2023
The Journey so Far
After touching down inside Mars’ Jezero Crater alongside NASA’s Perseverance rover in February 2021, Ingenuity swiftly proved its mettle. The helicopter surpassed expectations during its initial five-flight test phase, demonstrating the feasibility of powered flight in Mars’ notably sparse atmosphere.
Recognizing its potential, NASA extended Ingenuity’s mission. Now, the helicopter assists the Perseverance rover in its quest to uncover signs of ancient life. Together, this dynamic duo explores the expansive 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater — a location believed to have housed a sprawling lake and a river delta billions of years ago.
Ingenuity’s Mars resume is nothing short of remarkable. Over 56 flights, the rotorcraft has traversed a whopping 42,369 feet (12,914 m) and remained airborne for over 100 minutes, as chronicled in its official flight log. An intriguing side note: while the flight log earmarked Flight 56 for Aug. 25, photos from the flight pinpoint the date to Aug. 26.
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