NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter set a new flight distance record on Mars

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has made dozens of tiny aerial jaunts across Mars since first arriving on the planet in February 2021, but its latest flight set a new record for the tiny aircraft. On December 21, NASA reported Ingenuity’s 69th flight was also its farthest, according to its flight log-over 135 seconds, the four-pound, 19-inch-tall helicopter travelled roughly 2,315 feet at a speed of nearly 22.5 mph, beating its previous distance of about 2,310 feet achieved in April 2022.

As impressive as Ingenuity’s most recent flight already is, the trip went even better than originally expected. According to NASA’s Flight 69 preview log, the agency estimated its helicopter to journey about 2,304 feet over 131 seconds.

In total, Ingenuity has so far spent 125.5 minutes aloft to fly nearly 10.5 miles across the surface at altitudes as high as almost 80 feet. While chugging along, the helicopter snaps images of the ground beneath it to send back home to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory team overseeing the program in California.

Ingenuity long surpassed its original estimated lifespan, even without taking its latest feats into consideration.