NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter has flown through the skies of the Red Planet for the 15th time. The helicopter that landed on the belly of the Perseverance rover on Mars landed within the target zone on the Martian surface, said NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which leads the Ingenuity mission. When NASA manufactured the helicopter, the agency was initially unsure whether it would even fly on cold Mars. Originally only five flights were planned. In a tweet, JPL said Ingenuity flew for 128.8 seconds and “opportunistically” captured some images of interest to scientists.
The officers were still processing the pictures and other data. As soon as that is processed, it would be clear what distance the helicopter had covered on its 15th flight.
Ingenuity was developed for a flight time of up to 90 seconds and a journey of almost 300 meters at the same time. It can gain approximately 3 to 4.5 meters in height. According to NASA, the rotorcraft flies alone, with minimal commands from Earth sent in advance.
After launching from Earth in July 2020, Ingenuity and Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18 of this year in the target zone in the Jezero Crater, a dry bed of an old lake. According to scientists, the lake may have been home to an ecosystem made up of Mars microbes over 3.5 billion years ago. They hope the crater may still have debris that could shed light on the life that may once existed there.
Ingenuity took off from the surface of Mars for the first time on April 19 and successfully completed a controlled flight.