Watch NASA's Mars helicopter take flight in 'most detailed' video yet

Perseverance captured Ingenuity swooshing over the rocky and sandy Martian landscape.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Usually when the Ingenuity helicopter takes flight on Mars, we get to see some nifty still images snapped by the rotorcraft showing its own shadow or some of the surrounding landscape. New video footage from the viewpoint of NASA's Perseverance rover gives us a different perspective on the plucky chopper's exploits.

Percy was in a good position to watch Ingenuity when it took off for its 13th flight on Sept. 4. The footage is "the most detailed look yet of the rotorcraft in action," NASA said In a statement Thursday.

NASA shared two versions of the flight, one that's zoomed in and one that shows a wider angle with more of Mars in the picture. The flight lasted just over 160 seconds. The space agency said it "stands out as one of Ingenuity's most complicated." 

The rotorcraft lifts off and makes an aerial exploration of a region in the Jezero Crater named Seitah. Ingenuity is acting as a scout for Perseverance and one of its goals with the 13th flight was to take pictures of an interesting outcrop.

The rover's Mastcam-Z -- an instrument located on its "head" -- delivered the fantastic footage. "Even at 300 meters [328 yards] away, we get a magnificent closeup of takeoff and landing through Mastcam-Z's 'right eye.' And while the helicopter is little more than a speck in the wide view taken through the 'left eye,' it gives viewers a good feel for the size of the environment that Ingenuity is exploring," said Mastcam-Z deputy principal investigator Justin Maki.

Having a helicopter on Mars just doesn't get old. It's been so successful that it's easy to forget how experimental it is. NASA didn't know if it would work at all, and now it's preparing for its 16th flight as soon as this weekend. With Perseverance as a witness, we can marvel at Ingenuity's staying power.