The Mars Ingenuity helicopter made its third flight of the year, which also marks the 40th flight since it landed in the Jezero crater with the Perseverance rover in February 2021. Despite initially planning only five flights and he had to weather the Martian winter. , the little helicopter is still going strong as it approaches its second 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 explored the Jezero river delta. He will help scout ahead for the rover, identifying safe routes for the rover to drive while searching for evidence of ancient life that may 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 long the flight was in terms of horizontal distance covered, plus the maximum altitude and maximum ground speed achieved by the helicopter, as well as the distance and route of flight.
For Flight 40, Ingenuity traveled 584 feet (178 meters) and gained an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters), going up to a speed of 3.2 meters per second and staying in the air for just over 90 seconds.
While Ingenuity is in the air, it 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 points down towards the surface and is used by a computer on board the helicopter to determine its position and height. On a normal flight, the helicopter will take some color images but many more black and white images as these are necessary to fly properly.
All images captured by Ingenuity are made publicly available, including navigation images. So if you’ve ever wanted to see what Mars looks like from a helicopter, you can browse the gallery here. The latest flight gallery is here, with 10 black and white and two color images available.