NASA's Ingenuity helicopter aces longest Mars flight in 18 months

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter stretched its legs a bit on the Red Planet last week.

The 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) Ingenuity conducted its 63rd Mars flight on Thursday (Oct. 19), covering 1,901 feet (579 meters) of ground in the process.

That was “its longest distance since Flight 25,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages Ingenuity’s mission, said via X (formerly Twitter) on Monday (Oct. 23).

Related: Mars helicopter Ingenuity phones home, breaking 63-day silence

Ingenuity flew for 2,310 feet (704 m) on Flight 25, which occurred on April 8, 2022. That’s the rotorcraft’s single-flight distance record, followed by 2,051 feet (625 m) on Flight 9 in July 2021. Flight 63 is in third place.

This latest sortie lasted 143 seconds, according to the mission’s flight log. Ingenuity got a maximum of 39 feet (12 m) above the ground and reached a top speed of about 14.1 mph (22.7 kph). 

Those numbers aren’t records, either; the superlatives in those categories are 169.5 seconds, 66 feet (20 m) in altitude and 22.4 mph (36 kph), according to the flight log.


— Mars helicopter Ingenuity: First aircraft to fly on Red Planet

— Perseverance Mars rover snaps amazing shot of dusty Ingenuity helicopter (photo)

— Mars helicopter Ingenuity snaps incredible aerial photo of Perseverance rover during 51st flight

Ingenuity landed inside Mars’ 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater in February 2021 with NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The helicopter’s original task was to demonstrate that powered flight is possible on Mars, despite the planet’s thin atmosphere. Ingenuity did so over the course of five flights in the spring of 2021. NASA then granted a mission extension, during which the chopper is serving as a scout for the life-hunting, sample-collecting Perseverance.


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