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NASA Helicopter Ingenuity Masters 7th Flight in Mars

NASA Mars helicopter Ingenuity now has seven Red Planet flights under its belt. The 1.8 kilograms chopper took to the Martian skies again on June 8 making its first sortie since battling through an in-flight anomaly on May 22. And there were no problems this time around.

Mars helicopter Ingenuity lifted off around 12:34 local mean solar time on Tuesday, which corresponds to 11:54 a.m. EDT. The chopper traveled 106 meters south from its location on the floor of Mars‘ Jezero Crater, staying aloft for nearly 63 seconds. The solar-powered rotorcraft set down at a new airfield, the fourth one it has reached since landing on the Red Planet with NASA Perseverance rover on Feb. 18.

Mars helicopter Ingenuity deployed from Perseverance’s belly on April 3. That milestone started the clock ticking on the helicopter’s 30-day flight campaign, which was designed to show that powered, controlled flight is possible in the Red Planet’s thin air. Ingenuity performed five flights during that technology-demonstrating campaign, then embarked on an extended mission, which aims to showcase the scouting potential of Martian rotorcraft.

The first flight of that extended phase, the May 22 sortie, did not go entirely smoothly. Ingenuity suffered a glitch that interrupted the flow of photos from its navigation camera to its onboard computer. The chopper powered through the problem, managing to land safely near its intended destination.Perseverance captured video and, at times, audio of Ingenuity’s first five flights. But the car-size rover then relinquished its documentarian role to start focusing on its science mission, which is devoted to hunting for signs of ancient Mars life and collecting samples for future return to Earth.

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