Washington: NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter succeeded in its third flight on Mars on Sunday, which set records in speed and distance beyond what had been previously demonstrated, according to NASA.
The helicopter took off early Sunday and rose 5 meters. Then it zipped downrange 50 meters, just over half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 2 meters per second, according to NASA.
Ingenuity’s team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California is digging through a trove of information gathered during this third flight that will inform not just additional Ingenuity flights but possible Mars rotorcraft in the future, according to NASA.
The team is looking ahead to planning its fourth flight in a few days.
The Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its first and second Mars flights on Monday and Thursday last week.
NASA has gained its first practical experience operating a rotorcraft remotely at Mars, said the agency. These datasets will prove invaluable for potential future Mars missions that could enlist next-generation helicopters to add an aerial dimension to their explorations.
Ingenuity arrived at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. The helicopter is a technology demonstration with a planned test flight duration of up to 30 Martian days.