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NASA’s Mars helicopter just ‘keeps going, going, going!’

Story at a glance

  • NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity completed its 18th flight last Wednesday and stayed airborne for 124.3 seconds.
  • The aircraft landed on Mars in February along with NASA’s Perseverance rover.
  • So far, the aircraft has logged more than 30 minutes of flight time.

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter successfully completed its 18th flight. 

Ingenuity landed on Mars in February 2021 and, along with NASA’s Perseverance rover, covered 754 feet on the ground at 5.6 mph during its most recent flight, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory officials said on Twitter. 

 

“The #MarsHelicopter keeps going, going, going! Ingenuity successfully completed its 18th flight, adding 124.3 seconds to its overall time aloft on the Red Planet,” the Tweet reads. “It flew 754 feet (230 meters) at a speed of 5.6 mph (2.5 m/sec) & took images along the way.” 


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So far, the craft has logged more than 30 minutes of airtime on the red planet with the mid-December flight lasting for 124.3 seconds. Ingenuity’s 17th flight on Dec. 5 pushed its total air time past 30 minutes and bumped its total mileage to 2.2 miles, officials reported earlier this month. 

Mars has roughly one third the gravity of Earth and a very thin atmosphere which has made figuring out flight on the planet extremely tricky. But Ingenuity completed its first flight in April and made history as the first aircraft to make a “powered and controlled flight on another planet,” according to Scitechdaily. 

The helicopter’s inaugural flight lasted almost 40 seconds, the bulk of which the aircraft spent hovering above the ground at 10 feet in the air, according to the publication. 

“Ingenuity is the latest in a long and storied tradition of NASA projects achieving a space exploration goal once thought impossible,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk, SciTechDaily reported.  “The X-15 was a pathfinder for the space shuttle. Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover did the same for three generations of Mars rovers. We don’t know exactly where Ingenuity will lead us, but today’s results indicate the sky – at least on Mars – may not be the limit.


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