The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has completed its third flight this year, which also marks its 40th flight since landing in Jezero Crater with the Perseverance rover in February 2021. Although originally intended for only five flights and surviving the Martian winter, the little helicopter is still going strong as it celebrates its second anniversary on the red planet.
On the helicopter’s 40th flight, he flew from an area called Airfield Z to Airfield Beta to join the Perseverance rover exploring the Jezero River Delta. It will help locate the rover and identify safe routes for the rover while searching for evidence of ancient life that may have existed when water was present on the planet’s surface billions of years ago.
The details of each Ingenuity flight are recorded in the flight log, which shows how far the flight was traveled in terms of horizontal distance flown, plus the maximum altitude and maximum ground speed attained by the helicopter, as well as the flight duration and – route.
For Flight 40, Ingenuity covered 584 feet (178 meters) and gained an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters), achieved a speed of 3.2 meters per second, and stayed airborne for just over 90 seconds.
While the Ingenuity is in the air, it not only takes photos 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 will take some color pictures, but many more black and white pictures as these are needed for correct flight.
All images Ingenuity captures are made publicly available, including navigation images. So if you’ve always wanted to see what Mars looks like from a helicopter’s perspective, you can browse the gallery here. The gallery for the last flight is here, with 10 black and white and two color images.