Having its fourth successful flight, Ingenuity, NASA’s little Mars helicopter would continue to fly beyond its original monthlong mission.

Iran PressAmerica: Ingenuity, NASA’s little Mars helicopter will get to fly some more.

The small flying robot made history a week and a half ago as the first powered aircraft to take off on another world. On Friday, its fourth flight went farther and faster than ever before, The New York Times reported.

That wasn’t the only good news NASA had about the helicopter on Friday.

In a news conference earlier in the day, the space agency announced that it was extending Ingenuity’s life by another 30 Martian days, bringing the mission into a new phase. Now that Ingenuity’s engineers have demonstrated that flying in the thin air of Mars is possible, they will explore how it can be used as an aerial scout for its larger robotic companion, the Perseverance rover.

“It’s like Ingenuity is graduating from the tech demo phase,” MiMi Aung, the project manager of Ingenuity, said during a news conference on Friday.

Previously, it had seemed as though the helicopter’s service life was quickly drawing to a close. The 30 Martian days that had been allocated for test flights of Ingenuity were to run out next week, and the plans were to then abandon it, never to fly again.

Ingenuity — just 1.6 feet tall, 4 pounds in weight — is an $85 million add-on to Perseverance, NASA’s latest $2.7 billion rover, which landed on Mars in February. The helicopter is the first to fly like an airplane or a helicopter on another world.


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