NASA's Ingenuity completes "most complex" Martian flight

Pasadena, California – NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has completed its "most complex" Martian flight yet, the US space agency said on Wednesday.

The Mars Perseverance rover's original 30-day mission has been extended.
The Mars Perseverance rover's original 30-day mission has been extended.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

During its 10th flight on July 24, the mini-helicopter captured two pictures which were combined for a 3D image of low-lying wrinkles in the surface of Jezero Crater, NASA said.

After taking off from its seventh airfield, Ingenuity climbed to a "new record altitude" of 12 meters (around 40 feet) before making four heading changes and taking 10 images with the rotorcraft's color camera before landing at a new airfield.

"Ingenuity is allowing the Perseverance science team to be in two places at once," said Kevin Hand, co-lead of the rover's first science campaign.

"Right now, we are at the 'Crater Floor Fractured Rough,' where the rover is preparing for the mission's first sample acquisition on Mars. Yet at the same time, Ingenuity is providing a detailed preview of a potentially intriguing geologic features hundreds of meters away from us."

The Perseverance rover is preparing to collect its first Martian rock sample, the US space agency said in late July, calling it a milestone of the mission.

Perseverance landed on Mars at the end of February in a risky maneuver. The development and construction of the rover cost around $2.5 billion and lasted eight years.

Its mission is to seek traces of earlier microbial life on the Red Planet and research its geology and climate.

Ingenuity was also brought to Mars with the rover. In mid-April, it took off on Mars – marking the first flight of an aircraft on another planet. Since then, its original 30-day mission has been extended.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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