The Mars Ingenuity helicopter made its third flight of the year, which also marks its 40th flight since landing in Jezero Crater along with the Perseverance rover in February 2021. Despite originally being planned for just five flights and having to brave the Martian winter , the little helicopter is still going strong as it reaches its second anniversary on the red planet.
On the helicopter’s 40th flight, it traveled from an area called Airfield Z to Airfield Beta, on its way to join the Perseverance rover as it explored the Jezero River delta. It will help explore the rover, identifying safe routes for the rover to drive while looking for evidence of ancient life that could have existed when water was present on the planet’s surface billions of years ago.
Details of each Ingenuity flight are recorded in the Flight Log, which shows the distance of the flight in terms of horizontal distance traveled, plus the maximum altitude and maximum ground speed the helicopter reached, as well as the duration and route of the flight. .
For Flight 40, Ingenuity traveled 584 feet (178 meters) and gained an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters), reaching a speed of 3.2 meters per second and remaining in the air for just over 90 seconds.
While the Ingenuity is in the air, it takes pictures not only with its 13-megapixel color camera, but also with its 0.5-megapixel black-and-white navigation camera. The navigation camera points down towards the surface and is used by the helicopter’s onboard computer to determine its position and altitude. On a typical flight, the helicopter takes a few color images, but many more black and white images are needed for it to fly properly.
All images captured by Ingenuity are publicly available, including navigation images. So if you’ve ever wanted to see what Mars looks like from a helicopter perspective, you can browse the gallery here. The most recent flight gallery is here, with 10 black and white and two color images available.