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Watch the first footage of a helicopter on Mars

Watch the first footage of a helicopter on Mars


A big flight for a tiny craft

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A tiny helicopter standing on four skinny legs on the dusty red Martian surface.
The Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars.
Image: NASA

There’s new video of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars, captured by the Perseverance rover’s cameras and posted to Twitter by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The copter had its first flight earlier today, lifting 10 feet off the Martian surface for 39 seconds and marking the first flight of a powered craft on another planet. The video shows the tissue box-sized craft zipping up and hovering in place before gracefully landing back on the surface.

The video was shot at a 34mm focal length at 6.7 frames per second and is a sequence of about 1,400 frames, according to Perseverance imaging scientist Justin Maki. A “full-zoom version” at 110mm is coming in the next few days, along with photos from Ingenuity’s 13-megapixel horizon-facing camera. A black-and-white photo of its shadow, taken with its 1.5-megapixel navigation camera during the flight, has already been sent back.

Ingenuity’s flight was delayed multiple times because of an issue that required reinstalling its flight control software. NASA engineers are delighted at the success of the first flight test. Unlike Perseverance, Ingenuity won’t be involved in carrying out any specific experiments or explorations on Mars, but there are more flight tests planned for it in the coming weeks.