NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its second Mars flight on Thursday.
NASA said the flight lasted 51.9 seconds.
Officials said the flight added several new challenges to the first, which took place on April 19, including a higher maximum altitude, longer duration, and sideways movement.
During the flight, the small helicopter captured an image with its black-and-white navigation camera.
“So far, the engineering telemetry we have received and analyzed tell us that the flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate,” said Bob Balaram, chief engineer for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “We have two flights of Mars under our belts, which means that there is still a lot to learn during this month of Ingenuity.”
NASA said the second flight test took off at 5:33 a.m. It climbed to 16 feet in the air.
After the helicopter hovered briefly, its flight control system performed a slight 5-degree tilt, allowing some of the thrust from the counter-rotating rotors to accelerate the craft sideways for 7 feet, NASA said.
“The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions,” said Håvard Grip, Ingenuity’s chief pilot at JPL. “Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here – to make these unknowns known.”