The Ingenuity Mars helicopter has made its third flight of the year, which also marks its 40th flight since it landed in Jezero Crater alongside the Perseverance rover in February 2021. Even though it was originally intended for just five flights and had to weather the Martian winter. , the little helicopter is still going strong as it approaches its two-year 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 explores the Jezero River Delta. She will help explore the rover’s future, identifying safe routes for the rover to drive while searching for evidence of ancient life that might 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 how far the flight was in terms of horizontal distance traveled, as well as the maximum altitude and maximum ground speed the helicopter reached, as well as the flight duration and route.
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 staying airborne for just over 90 seconds.
While in the air, Ingenuity takes photos not only with its 13-megapixel color camera, but also with its 0.5-megapixel black and white navigation camera. The navigation camera is pointed towards the surface and is used by the helicopter’s on-board computer to determine its position and altitude. In a typical flight, the helicopter will take some color images, but many more black and white images, as these are necessary for it to fly properly.
All images taken by Ingenuity are made publicly available, including browsing images. So if you’ve ever wanted to see what Mars looks like from a helicopter’s perspective, you can browse the gallery here. The gallery of the most recent flight is here, with 10 images in black and white and two colors available.