Watch NASA's Mars helicopter complete a record-setting flight

Ingenuity flew its fastest and longest flight in April.

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Jon Fingas
May 31, 2022 9:15 AM
NASA Ingenuity Mars helicopter in 25th flight
NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter is still pushing boundaries long after its first Mars liftoff. As CNET notes, the space agency has shared video of Ingenuity's milestone 25th flight on April 8th, when it broke duration and speed records. The robotic helicopter flew at 12MPH for just over two minutes and 41 seconds, providing footage of the Red Planet's rippling sands and rock fields as part of the 2,310-foot journey. The footage you see below was sped up to cut the viewing time to 35 seconds.

The video doesn't include the very start and end of the trip, but for good reason. The navigation camera switches off whenever Ingenuity is within three feet of the Martian surface to prevent dust from interfering with the navigation system. The autonomous flier receives flight plans from JPL, but it uses a combination of the camera, a laser rangefinder and an inertial measurement unit to adapt to real-life conditions.

Ingenuity has flown three times since. It's currently preparing for a 29th flight following a brief scare in early May, when the mission team lost communication after the helicopter switched to a low-power state. NASA isn't easily deterred, then — expect the aircraft to keep flying for a while to come.

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