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The U.S. space agency NASA reports the Ingenuity helicopter, the tiny aircraft that landed on Mars with the agency's Perseverance rover earlier this year, has completed its 12th flight over the red planet.

The U.S. space agency NASA reports the Ingenuity helicopter, the tiny aircraft that landed on Mars with the agency's Perseverance rover earlier this year, has completed its 12th flight over the red planet.

On its Twitter account late Monday, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which oversees the Perseverance mission, reported the success of the latest flight of the tiny aircraft, noting it flew over what JPL called "the geological wonder that is the 'South Séítah' region of Mars. In its tweet, JPL reported the craft climbed to a height of 10 meters over the martian surface and flew a 450-meter round trip for a total flight time of 169 seconds. The flight took place early Monday, but because of the delay in transmission time from Mars, its success was not confirmed until later.


In a blog post to the JPL website, Ingenuity Team Lead Teddy Tzanetos, and Ingenuity Chief Pilot Håvard Grip explained the flight was ambitious for the helicopter because its relatively simple navigation system was designed to fly over basically flat terrain. The Séítah South region is more varied, including boulders, rocky outcrops and other geologic features.

But based on the JPL tweet, the flight was completed apparently without issue. The team says the images taken by Ingenuity will be used to construct a stereo, or 3D, image that will be used to determine if the area is worth further scrutiny by the Perseverance rover in its mission to look for signs of past or current life on the planet.

Originally designed to be a simple demonstration project to prove flight was possible on in the Martian atmosphere, the Ingenuity team says the helicopter is now providing NASA with data to guide the Perseverance rover. Its performance will also guide how future missions will be designed, how those missions will utilize aircraft to help determine where rovers should go and where they cannot.

The 1.8-kilogram aircraft arrived on the planet packed away on NASA's Perseverance rover when it landed on Mars in February. Aside from solar batteries, a camera and a transmitter, Ingenuity carries no scientific instruments.(VOA/HP)


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