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Rare footage of Mars helicopter flying over an alien desert

Rare footage of Mars helicopter flying over an alien desert

NASA captured rare footage of the Ingenuity space helicopter taking off over the Martian desert.

'We are not in Martian Kansas anymore.'

That's what one man - Josh Anderson - remarked after NASA's Ingenuity flight was completed over the Martian desert.

NASA celebrated the 50th extra-terrestrial flight of the Ingenuity helicopter as it flew over Mars' desert. The NASA helicopter flew over 1,000 ft and reached an altitude of nearly 60 ft.

The helicopter is accompanied with the Perseverance rover. As the robotic helicopter is flown by NASA, the rover searches for potential signs of past life below by analysing rocks with its lasers.

NASA captured the rare footage on camera / NASA / JPL-Caltech
NASA captured the rare footage on camera / NASA / JPL-Caltech

Thanks to the space agency's rare footage from the Perseverance rover, located 400ft away, we're able to witness the take-off in action.

NASA described the footage saying: 'This video shows the dust initially kicked up by the helicopter's spinning rotors, as well as Ingenuity taking off, hovering, and beginning its 1,444-foot (440-metre) journey to the southwest.'

The space agency continued to say that the rotorcraft landed off camera at Airfield 'Iota.'

Navigating through Mars' Jezero Crater, an environment that 'could have hosted Martian life - if any existed,' Josh Anderson, NASA's Ingenuity operations lead, highlighted the terrain challenges.

Anderson said: 'While we recently upgraded the navigation software onboard to help determine safe airfields, every flight is still a white-knuckler.'

One challenge is that the terrain is no longer flat. Anderson explained that the area is filled with 'dunes, boulders, and rocks, and surrounded by hills that could have us for lunch.'

Nevertheless, NASA engineers are guiding the robot every step of the way.

'We are not in Martian Kansas anymore' / NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS
'We are not in Martian Kansas anymore' / NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS

In 2021, Ingenuity and Perseverance entered the Martian atmosphere - dropping something on the way - achieving what NASA claims as the 'best-documented Mars landing in history.'

Before 2021, humanity had never flown a powered aircraft onto another planet. And the fact that it was documented on film makes it all the more exciting!

Each flight offers new data and insight into the mysteries of the red planet and NASA hopes that Ingenuity's flight could prove something for future exploration.

Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said: 'Just as the Wright brothers continued their experiments well after that momentous day at Kitty Hawk in 1903, the Ingenuity team continues to pursue and learn from the flight operations of the first aircraft on another world.'

Ingenuity is now en route to Mount Julian from where NASA hopes to capture a panoramic view into nearby Belva Crater. Whereas, Perseverance most recently explored Foel Drygarn searching for hydrated silica.

Featured Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS