Mars helicopter sets new distance record during 25th flight

It’s been less than a year since successfully conducted the first drone flight on another planet. Mars helicopter Ingenuity has been performing above expectations since then and is still operational. Recently, the drone even made its 25th flight above the surface of the red planet. A new distance record was set: the device covered no less than 704 meters.

25 flights for Mars helicopter

Initially, the idea was that the Mars helicopter Ingenuity, which traveled to Mars aboard the Mars rover Perseverance, would make only a few flights. The main goal was to investigate whether it is even possible to conduct drone flights in the rarefied Martian atmosphere. Only at a later stage would it be investigated whether a Mars drone could be used to explore the planet from the air and to scout suitable routes for a robot on the ground.

On April 19, 2021, a month after arriving on Mars, Ingenuity made history by making the first successful drone flight on another planet. That flight lasted half a minute, reaching a flight height of 3 meters. During the second flight, three days after the maiden flight, a distance of about four meters was covered. Over time, the flight crew on Earth dared to carry out increasingly complex flights over longer distances.

On April 8, 2022, almost exactly a year after the first flight, the 25th flight was performed. A distance record of 704 meters was set. A speed record was also set: during the flight, a speed of 5.5 m/s (approx. 18 km/h) was achieved. The flight lasted just under three minutes, quite an achievement when you consider that the helicopter was designed with a maximum flight time of 90 seconds in mind.

Mars Helicopter Sets New Distance Record During 25Th Flight
The shadow of the Mars helicopter during the 25th flight. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Mars helicopter flight log

In total, the Mars helicopter traveled more than 5 kilometers during 25 flights. All flights together lasted more than 46 minutes. The altitude record was set in July 2021: a flight altitude of approximately 12 meters was then achieved.

The Mars helicopter weighs 1.8 kg. The two rotors have a wingspan of 1.2 meters. Between flights, the helicopter charges itself by means of solar panels. During a flight, the drone requires approximately 350 Watts of energy.

The drone performs all flights independently, as radio signals from Earth take between 5 and 20 minutes to reach Mars, depending on the position of the planets. In principle, the Ingenuity always stays close to the Perseverance, as the drone relies on the radio installation onboard the rover for communication with Earth.

Your thoughts on the Mars helicopter

What do you think about the Mars helicopter and its new long-distance record? Let us know your thoughts on this outstanding achievement in the comments below. We are curious to hear what you think.

This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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