NASA’s Mars Ingenuity helicopter took off on its fifth test flight Friday, but it won’t be returning to the Perseverance rover this time.
The helicopter took flight around 3:30 p.m. ET from Wright Brothers Field, where it has performed its previous test flights, with the plan this time to head south 423 feet and land in a new area for the first time. Data from the light will transmit back to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory around 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
This new phase of exploration by Ingenuity is only possible because of its resounding success on the “red planet” so far.
“The power system that we fretted over for years is providing more than enough energy to keep our heaters going at night and to fly during the day. The off-the-shelf components for our guidance and navigation systems are also doing great, as is our rotor system,” Josh Ravich, Ingenuity Mars helicopter mechanical engineering lead, wrote Thursday. “You name it, and it’s doing just fine or better.”
NASA released the first video and audio recording of Ingenuity in action on the red planet Friday.
The rumble of wind on Mars can be heard, followed by the sound of Ingenuity’s blades spinning at 2,357 rpm and elevating the helicopter.
The sound and video were captured by SuperCam, a laser instrument mounted on Perseverance.
Ingenuity will be moving ahead and scouting out the area that Perseverance will be driving to soon in search of signs of ancient microbial life.
The 2,300-pound rover will start collecting samples of Martian rock for eventual return to earth. It is also getting data on the Red Planet’s climate to pave the way for humans to eventually touch down on Mars.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.