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NASA Mars Helicopter Lives, Notches Remarkable 29th Flight

Fly, little buddy, fly!

A small helicopter sits on the dusty Martian ground.
NASA's experimental Ingenuity helicopter appears in an image soon after its initial deployment in 2021.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

The Ingenuity helicopter's first 28 flights on Mars were phenomenal, but its 29th may be one of its most impressive achievements. The wunderkind rotorcraft survived technical glitches, a dead sensor and brutal winter conditions to lift itself once again into the Martian sky.

NASA JPL confirmed the successful flight in a tweet Tuesday, saying the chopper completed the 66.6-second journey over the weekend, traveling 587 feet (179 meters) across Mars. Ingenuity's previous flight, No. 28, took place at the end of April.

The flight was planned to reposition Ingenuity so it could stay in contact with its companion, the Perseverance rover. The duo have been working together to explore the Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed with a history of water. Percy is now checking out an intriguing river delta area that may hold clues as to whether Mars might have hosted microbial life.  

Ingenuity has greatly outlasted its expected lifespan since taking its first flight in April 2021. The cold and dusty winter conditions on Mars will continue to challenge the solar-powered helicopter, but the completion of flight 29 is one more thrilling achievement in flight on another world.