NASA's tiny helicopter on Mars, which has a fuselage about the size of a small toaster, has successfully flown above Mars for the 12th time.
Nearly half a year after the Perseverance rover landed on Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter is still going strong on the surface of Mars. The small flyer has done so well that it has been separated from Perseverance for some time as it scouts ahead on the red planet.
Ingenuity completed its latest flight on Monday, ascending to 10 meters and flying 450 meters across Mars to investigate what scientists call the “South Séítah” region of Mars. The helicopter was aloft for a total of 169 seconds during Monday's flight. In its dozen flights, Ingenuity has now covered 2.67 km, which is farther than Perseverance has rolled during nearly six months.
For Monday's flight Ingenuity flew out over this intriguing region to scout its boulders and other geological features to help mission scientists determine whether they warrant further scrutiny by Perseverance. After slowing over this area of interest to take photographs, Ingenuity then flew back to its takeoff point. The flight involved significant risk because Ingenuity's terrain navigation system was designed to fly across nearly flat terrain. Rocky terrain could induce errors in pitch and roll during flight.