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NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter is living its best life on Mars. Here’s why

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has flown 10 missions on the Martian planet

The surface of Mars from a height of 33 feet, captured by the Ingenuity Mars helicopter.
This May 22, 2021, photo made available by NASA shows the surface of Mars from a height of 33 feet, captured by the Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight.
NASA, JPL-Caltech via Associated Press

On a planet far, far away, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter — unconcerned with wildfires, drought and Earthling partisan politics — is living its best life.

Over the weekend, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab announced that Ingenuity had flown its 10th mission on the Martian planet and had surpassed one mile in total flight distance.

“Flight 10 is Ingenuity’s most complex flight profile yet, with 10 distinct waypoints and a new record height of 40 feet (12 meters),” NASA JPL wrote in an Instagram post Sunday.

  • “At the completion of its flight, the helicopter put down at its seventh airfield — about 310 feet (95 meters) due west of its takeoff zone. Ingenuity’s total time in the air was ~165.4 seconds,” NASA JPL added.
  • Ingenuity’s mission this weekend was a reconnaissance flight of the “Raised Ridges” area of the Martian landscape to provide images for the NASA’s Perseverance Rover, an area JPL said the large rover may explore in the future.

After 612 months of space flight, Ingenuity and Perseverance landed on Mars in February — the four-pound helicopter stowed inside the one-ton rover during the trip — and both have been exploring the planet ever since. Perseverance’s mission is to look for signs of ancient life on Mars and to collect rock and soil samples that could one day be sent back to Earth, according to NASA.

  • NASA Mars 2020 Mission Perseverance photos show hundreds of remarkable photos the robots have been sending back to Earth.
  • In May, the Perseverance rover captured video of the Ingenuity helicopter flying over the Martian surface and NASA shared the video in 3D on YouTube.