Ingenuity helicopter milestone: flown over 1.6 kilometers over Mars

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has reached a new milestone. The helicopter has flown more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) over the red planet. NASA itself announces this.

NASA reports that Mars helicopter Ingenuity has now made ten flights over the red planet. In total, the aircraft has covered more than one mile (1.6 kilometers), a record. According to the space agency, the latest flight was the most complex yet.

The helicopter made a flight past ten predetermined points at an altitude of about twelve meters. That flight lasted almost 3 minutes. That is a lot longer than the previous flights of about 40 seconds. The helicopter captured images of several mountain ridges.

For the Mars helicopter, launched last year aboard the NASA Perseverance vehicle, conditions on Mars are extreme. Due to the thin atmosphere, roughly only 1 percent of that on Earth, the rotors must make more than 2,500 revolutions per minute to break free from the ground.

In addition, solar power is lower, and batteries suffer from low temperatures at night, when the mercury can drop to 90 degrees below zero.

How long the Mars helicopter will continue to fly is currently a surprise even for the scientists. Normally, the mission would end at the end of November.

However, the Mars helicopter is performing better than expected and will therefore continue to be used.

“We do expect it to come to an end,” project manager MiMi Aung said earlier. “It remains a surprise how long the components will continue to work.”

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