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NASA’s Ingenuity Rover Sets New Speed Record in Third Flight

For the first time on Sunday, Ingenuity Rover, the first craft to fly on another planet reached a jogging speed, the fastest it has ever flown on any planet. NASA’s tiny helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity, flew around the length of a football field in its third flight to Mars. It reached a maximum speed of about 4.5 miles per hour (2 metres per second), which is about the average jogging speed for humans.

The cosmically cute chopper can be seen lifting off the Martian surface to a height of 16 feet (5 metres) in a video taken by the Perseverance rover’s MastCam-Z camera. It flew to the right and out of frame for a while before coming into view and landing near the same location. Although commercial drones and other similar craft are obviously getting faster all the time, Ingenuity Rover‘s new record demonstrates that it can maintain its performance even when driven beyond the speeds reached during its tests on Earth.

The NASA program executive for Ingenuity, Dave Lavery, said in a statement, “Today’s flight was what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing. With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions.” The flight started at 1:31 a.m. PT on Sunday (12:33 p.m. local Mars time) and saw Ingenuity Rover fly 328 feet (100 meters). At 7:16 a.m. PT, data from the flight began to arrive at mission control in California, including new photographs from Ingenuity’s colour and black-and-white navigation cameras.

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