Mars Helicopter Image
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took a selfie with the Ingenuity helicopter, seen here about 13 feet from the rover in this image taken April 6, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has a new mission. Having proven that powered, controlled flight is possible on the Red Planet, the Ingenuity experiment will soon embark on a new operations demonstration phase.

Ingenuity’s transition from conducting a technology demonstration to an operations demonstration brings with it a new flight envelope: more precision maneuvering, greater use of its aerial-observation capabilities, and more risk overall. The change also means Ingenuity will require less support from the Perseverance rover team.

The cadence of flights during Ingenuity’s operations demonstration phase will slow from once every few days to about once every two or three weeks, and the forays will be scheduled to avoid interfering with Perseverance’s science operations. The team will assess flight operations after 30 sols and will complete flight operations no later than the end of August.