NASA’s Ingenuity continues to outdo itself. This incredible machine, the first flying vehicle we have sent to another world, has so far defied expectations. It was supposed to be a technological demonstration, trying out five flights over one month. Now, 18 months later, it has become a fully fledged research companion for Perseverance and completed its 35th flight, beating one of its records in the process.
This flight was a short one, shifting it only about 15 meters (50 feet), but during its 52 seconds in flight Ingenuity reached 14 meters (46 feet) above Mars’ surface. The goal of this flight was just to reposition the helicopter, but the team managed to squeeze in a new record with it.
The previous altitude record was 12 meters (39 feet) set three times in 2021, first in July during the 10th flight and last time on November 6, 2021, as part of flight 15. Since then, most of the flights have kept roughly to the standard 10 meters (33 feet), with the occasional drop to slightly lower altitudes.
The Martian atmosphere is just 1 percent of Earth’s own by density, so flying there is not easy no matter how effortless Ingenuity makes it look. The helicopter will continue to fly for as long as it can, providing a bird’s eye view to help scientists direct Perseverance to the most intriguing targets.