After four historic flights, the Ingenuity Mars helicopter successfully flew to a new destination. The 4-pound chopper conducted a one-way flight to its new airfield on Friday.
As with previous flights, Ingenuity took off from Wright Brothers Field, but it’s not coming back.
This time, Ingenuity ascended 16 feet (5 meters) in the air and flew 423 feet (129 meters) south. This retraces the path the helicopter made during its fourth flight while scouting for the next location.
Then, the rotorcraft climbed to a new height record of 33 feet (10 meters) to take color and black-and-white images of this new airfield.
After logging a flight of 108 seconds, Ingenuity landed in its new home.
“The fifth flight of the Mars Helicopter is another great achievement for the agency,” said Bob Pearce, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, in a statement. “The continuing success of Ingenuity proves the value of bringing together the strengths of diverse skill sets from across the agency to create the future, like flying an aircraft on another planet!”
The flight began at 3:26 p.m. ET or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time. Data streamed back in to the control room where the mission is managed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, around 7:31 p.m. ET.
“We bid adieu to our first Martian home, Wright Brothers Field, with grateful thanks for the support it provided to the historic first flights of a planetary rotorcraft,” said Bob Balaram, chief engineer for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL, in a statement. “No matter where we go from here, we will always carry with us a reminder of how much those two bicycle builders from Dayton meant to us during our pursuit of the first flight on another world.”
The Perseverance rover, which has been capturing video and images of the helicopter’s flights, also shared audio it collected from Ingenuity’s fourth flight using the rover’s microphones.
Over the course of its aerial excursions, Ingenuity has demonstrated that powered, controlled flight is possible on another planet. The Mars helicopter also has met each challenge to fly faster, longer and further than the previous flight.
The Wright brothers flew higher and farther using upgraded versions of the Flyer in 1904 and 1905 and carried their first air passenger in 1908.
“In a sense, over the course of three weeks and four flights, the Ingenuity team has gone from the Wright brothers of 1903 to the Wright brothers of 1908, but in weeks rather than years,” Ravich wrote.
Ingenuity is holding up well on Mars, and its power system is providing enough energy to keep the chopper warm during frigid Martian nights and fly during the day.
“Our helicopter is even more robust than we had hoped,” Ravich wrote.
“The Wrights showed what could be accomplished with a combination of teamwork, creativity, and tenacity — and a bit of ingenuity and perseverance,” Ravich wrote.
“On flight day, when I look around the room and online at our team, I see a lot of the same sort of vision and tenacity/spirit that made the Wright brothers who they were. Together, we are continuing…