The future of aerial Mars exploration looks bright.
NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity, which landed inside Mars’ Jezero Crater with the agency’s Perseverance rover in February, has now completed eight Red Planet flights. That’s three more than the maximum targeted for the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper’s original technology-demonstration mission — and Ingenuity isn’t done yet.
The little rotorcraft’s current extended-mission activities, which center on showcasing the potential of Mars helicopters to serve as scouts for rovers, will “continue for at least a few more months, with a cadence of a couple of flights a month,” Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley, a geochemist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said last Monday (June 21) during a webcast meeting of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG).