NASA’s tiny Ingenuity helicopter made its third successful flight on Mars Sunday early, and it flew higher and faster than it did, even when it was tested on Earth. At approximately 1:31 a.m. ET, the helicopter soared 16 feet and flew 164 feet during its 80 second third flight, with a top speed of 6.6 feet per second.
NASA received the flight data shortly after 10 a.m. ET. “Today’s flight was what we planned, and yet it was nothing short of amazing,” NASA’s Dave Lavery said in a statement. “With this flight, we demonstrate critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an air dimension to future Mars missions.”
In his second mission on Thursday, Ingenuity made a flight of 51.9 seconds, a travel of two meters. For Ingenuity’s maiden flight on April 19, the small craft lifted 3 meters off the surface of Mars for 39 seconds.
Ingenuity arrived on Mars on Feb. 18 with its parent rover Perseverance, whose mission is to look for signs of life and take soil samples from Mars. While Ingenuity is not the main focus of the Perseverance mission, its ability to fly in Mars’ thin atmosphere will provide data useful for future explorations of Mars.
NASA says it is planning a fourth flight for Ingenuity in a few days.