Mars rover update: NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter makes successful second flight

Small chopper rises 16 feet, performs slight tilt

The small helicopter on Mars had another -- this time longer -- successful flight.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter made a second successful flight on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

The first flight lasted just 30 seconds with Ingenuity simply taking off, hovering 10 feet above the ground and touching down again. Each flight will get more complicated.

So, on Thursday, Ingenuity rose 16 feet above the ground in its second flight and then, after hovering briefly, its flight control system performed a 5-degree tilt allowing some of the thrust from the counter-rotating rotors to accelerate the craft sideways for 7 feet before returning to the center of the airfield to land.

The entire flight lasted 52 seconds this time. Because the chopper survived this second attempt and it did exactly what it was supposed to do, now they are looking at how they will push the envelope and make things more challenging for the next flight.

Read more: Part of Wright brothers’ 1st airplane on NASA’s Mars chopper

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In this image made available by NASA, the Mars Ingenuity helicopter hovers above the surface of the planet during its second flight on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS via AP)


About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.