NASA JPL has shared a tweet with a selfie taken by the Mars Ingenuity Helicopter. The picture was snapped during the helicopter’s eighth test flight on Monday of this week. While NASA isn’t sharing a wealth of details about the eighth test flight, what it has said is that the helicopter flew for 77.4 seconds over a distance of 160 meters.
After the short flight, Ingenuity landed at a new spot roughly 133.5 meters from the Perseverance rover. The image is interesting and shows the shadow of Ingenuity as it flew across the surface of Mars. The image shows the dual rotors of the helicopter frozen and looking very much like the wings of a dragonfly.
Things have been going smoothly for the Ingenuity helicopter after it suffered a significant glitch during its sixth test flight. On that flight, there was a problem with a single frame from the images taken by the navigation cameras aboard the spacecraft being lost, resulting in the helicopter being unable to determine where exactly it was and becoming unstable. Luckily, Ingenuity was able to land safely and continue operations.
NASA celebrated the seventh test flight of the helicopter earlier this month, and that flight went off without a hitch. NASA has extended testing operations for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter into a new stage, and more test flights will be performed. NASA is currently conducting tests to see how missions using flight can be conducted in the future.
With the success of the helicopter on the surface of Mars so far, it will be no surprise if most future Mars missions and potentially missions to other planets include rotorcraft of their own. By flying over the surface of Mars rather than rolling as a rover does, Ingenuity can cover more ground more quickly, potentially expanding the area it can investigate.