Perseverance Rover Captures Stunning Image of Ingenuity Helicopter on Mars

NASA's Perseverance rover has captured a breathtaking image of its Mars companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, revealing the robotic helicopter's dusty blades. This up-close view of Ingenuity is the first time in nearly two years that Perseverance has gotten this close to the helicopter.

Close Encounter of Perseverance and Ingenuity

Perseverance recently traveled within only 75 feet (23 meters) of Ingenuity, which flew to the Red Planet with the big rover. During its close approach on April 16, Perseverance snapped some photos of Ingenuity, and NASA shared them on Twitter on April 18.

The images show the helicopter's rotors coated in Martian dust, which was likely kicked up by the helicopter during takeoff, hovering, and landing. Despite the dusty coating, officials with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said that "Ingenuity looks to be holding up well in the harsh Martian environment."

The First Powered Flight in the Skies of an Alien World

Ingenuity is the first machine to achieve powered flight in the skies of an alien world. This is a significant achievement, given that the thin Mars atmosphere makes it difficult to achieve enough lift. Ingenuity is equipped with enlarged, specially shaped blades that rotate about 10 times faster than what is needed to fly on Earth.

On April 13, the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) helicopter completed its 50th flight on Mars. During this flight, it traveled 1,057 feet (322.2 meters) in 145.7 seconds and achieved a new altitude record of 59 feet (18 m) above the Red Planet's surface.

Exceeding the Planned Mission

The Mars helicopter's first flight took place on April 19, 2021, only two months after it landed in Jezero Crater. The helicopter has far exceeded its originally planned technology demonstration mission of up to five flights.

Ingenuity also serves as a scout for Perseverance, which is searching for evidence of past microbial life and collecting samples for future return to Earth. The helicopter's test of powered flight on another world could aid in future sample return missions and the ongoing search for life on Mars.

Natural-color view of NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter, captured by the agency's Perseverance rover using its Mastcam-Z instrument on April 16, 2023. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter, photographed by the agency's Perseverance rover on April 16, 2023. The rover captured this enhanced-color image using its Mastcam-Z instrument.  (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

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