NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flies faster, farther on third flight

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther on Sunday, April 25, 2021 than in any tests it went through on Earth. The helicopter took off at 4:31 a.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) – the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), just over half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second). Ingenuity then came back to its take-off spot, for a total flight time of 80 seconds.

“Third flight in the history books.” officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California wrote on Twitter. “Our #MarsHelicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther. The space chopper is demonstrating critical capabilities that could enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future missions to Mars & beyond.” The previous two flights were conducted on Monday and Thursday. Monday’s historic outing marked the first time powered, controlled flight by an aircraft had been conducted on another world. Ingenuity was carried to Mars by Nasa’s Perseverance rover, which touched down in Jezero Crater in mid-February. The 1.8kg drone is regarded as a technology demonstration intended to prove the utility of aerial mobility in the planet’s rarefied atmosphere.