Mars    Helicopter

Status Updates

Ingenuity Flight 7 Preview
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter acquired this image on May 22, 2021 using its black and white navigation camera. This camera is mounted in the helicopter’s fuselage and pointed directly downward to track the ground during flight. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
The next flight of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will take place no earlier than this Sunday, June 6. Regardless of flight date, data will be returned to Earth over the subsequent three days.
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Surviving an In-Flight Anomaly: What Happened on Ingenuity’s Sixth Flight
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
This image of Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight on May 22, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
On the 91st Martian day, or sol, of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter performed its sixth flight. The flight was designed to expand the flight envelope and demonstrate aerial-imaging capabilities by taking stereo images of a region of interest to the west. Ingenuity was commanded to climb to an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) before translating 492 feet (150 meters) to the southwest at a ground speed of 9 mph (4 meters per second). At that point, it was to translate 49 feet (15 meters) to the south while taking images toward the west, then fly another 164 feet (50 meters) northeast and land.
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Plans Underway for Ingenuity’s Sixth Flight
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took this color image from an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters) during its fifth flight on May 7, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
Plans are underway for NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make its sixth flight on the Red Planet in the next week. The flight is the first to be executed during the helicopter’s operations demonstration phase and includes scouting multiple surface features from the air and landing at a different airfield.
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Keeping Our Feet Firmly on the Ground
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s was captured after landing on May 7, 2021, by the Mastcam-Z imager, one of the instruments aboard the agency’s Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
With the Ingenuity helicopter’s fifth successful flight on Mars, the first one-way flight, a lot of attention has been deservedly focused on the performance of the helicopter rotor and its aerodynamics. However, there has been another subsystem on the helicopter that has been hard at work ever since the helicopter was dropped onto the surface – its feet.
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Why Ingenuity’s Fifth Flight Will Be Different
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took this color image during its fourth flight on April 30, 2021. “Airfield B,” it’s new landing site, can be seen below; it will seek to set down there on its fifth flight attempt. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
Around the time of our first flight, we talked a lot about having our “Wright brothers moment” at Mars. And that makes a lot of sense, since those two mechanically-minded bicycle builders executed the first powered, controlled flight on Earth, and we were fortunate enough to do the same 117 years later – on another planet.
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Ingenuity Completes Its Fourth Flight
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter (above center to the right) is viewed by one of the hazard cameras aboard the Perseverance rover during the helicopter’s fourth flight on April 30, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
Ingenuity successfully completed its fourth flight today, and we couldn’t be happier. The helicopter took off at 10:49 a.m. EDT (7:49 a.m. PDT, or 12:33 local Mars time), climbing to an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) before flying south approximately 436 feet (133 meters) and then back, for an 872-foot (266-meter) round trip. In total, we were in the air for 117 seconds. That’s another set of records for the helicopter, even compared to the spectacular third flight.
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What We’re Learning About Ingenuity’s Flight Control and Aerodynamic Performance
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s navigation camera captures the helicopter’s shadow on the surface of Jezero Crater during rotorcraft’s second experimental test flight on April 22, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
Before each of Ingenuity’s test flights, we upload instructions that describe precisely what the flight should look like. But when it comes time to fly, the helicopter is on its own and relies on a set of flight control algorithms that we developed here on Earth before Ingenuity was even launched to Mars.
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Mars Helicopter's Flight Four Rescheduled
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover’s mast. This is one still frame from a sequence captured by the camera while taking video on April 29. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS.
Data received from the Mars Ingenuity helicopter on Thursday morning shows the helicopter did not execute its planned fourth flight as scheduled. The helicopter is safe and in good health. Data returned during a downlink at 1:21 p.m. EDT (10:21 a.m. PDT) indicates the helicopter did not transition to flight mode, which is required for the flight to take place.
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We Are Prepping for Ingenuity's Third Flight Test
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
This is the first color image of the Martian surface taken by an aerial vehicle while it was aloft. The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter captured it with its color camera during its second successful flight test on April 22, 2021. At the time this image, Ingenuity was 17 feet (5.2 meters) above the surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
Yesterday I got to write the entry for the second successful experimental flight test from "Wright Brothers Field" in the project’s official logbook, which is called "The Nominal Pilot’s Logbook for Planets and Moons." Next chance to make an entry is coming up fast: We’re targeting our third flight for this Sunday, April 25, with initial datasets and imagery arriving in our control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory around 7:16 a.m. PDT (10:16 a.m. EDT).
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We're Getting Ready for Ingenuity’s Second Flight
Black and white image of the Mars Helicopter in flight.
Left to right: Buzz Aldrin took this iconic image of a bootprint on the Moon during the Apollo 11 moonwalk on July 20, 1969. NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter took this shot, capturing its own shadow, while hovering over the Martian surface on April 19, 2021, during the first instance of powered, controlled flight on another planet. It used its navigation camera, which autonomously tracks the ground during flight. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
With the first flight of Ingenuity a success, we’re looking toward our second taking place on April 22, which is the 18th of the 30 sols (Martian days) of our flight test window. For this second flight test at “Wright Brothers Field,” we are targeting a takeoff time for 5:30 a.m. EDT (2:30 a.m. PDT), or 12:30 p.m. Local Mean Solar Time. But we’re looking to go a little bigger this time. On the first flight, Ingenuity hovered 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface. This time around, we plan to trying climbing to 16 feet (5 meters) in this flight test. Then, after the helicopter hovers briefly, it will go into a slight tilt and move sideways for 7 feet (2 meters). Then Ingenuity will come to a stop, hover in place, and make turns to point its color camera in different directions before heading back to the center of the airfield to land. Of course, all of this is done autonomously, based on commands we sent to Perseverance to relay to Ingenuity the night before.
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About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by the Mars Helicopter team. The Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars.

Dates of planned test activities are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays, helicopter and/or rover status.

Contributors+

  • MiMi Aung
    Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Project Manager, NASA/JPL
  • Bob Balaram
    Chief Engineer for the Mars Helicopter Project, NASA/JPL
  • Håvard Grip
    Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Chief Pilot, NASA/JPL
  • Josh Ravich
    Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Mechanical Engineering Lead, NASA/JPL