Early Sunday, NASA’s tiny Ingenuity helicopter made its third successful flight on Mars, flying higher and faster than when it was tested on Earth. During its 80-second third flight, the helicopter ascended 16 feet and flew 164 feet at a top speed of 6.6 feet per second.
The flight data was received by NASA shortly after 10 a.m. ET. In a statement, NASA’s Dave Lavery said, “Today’s flight was exactly what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing.” “With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will allow future Mars missions to include an aerial dimension.”
On Thursday, Ingenuity flew for 51.9 seconds and traveled seven feet on its second mission. On April 19th, Ingenuity took its first flight, lifting 10 feet off the surface of Mars for 39 seconds.
Ingenuity, along with its parent rover Perseverance, arrived on Mars on February 18th with the mission of looking for signs of life and collecting Martian soil samples.
While the Perseverance mission isn’t focused on ingenuity, its ability to fly through Mars’ thin atmosphere will provide data that will be useful for future Mars explorations.
Ingenuity will take the fourth flight in a few days, according to NASA.