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Mars helicopter mission extended by Nasa

Science desk || shiningbd

Published: 13:41, 1 May 2021  
Mars helicopter mission extended by Nasa

The US space agency has announced it is extending its Mars helicopter mission.

Nasa said the first three flights of the drone, called Ingenuity, had worked so well it would now be moving from a demonstration to an operational phase.

This means the chopper will now support Nasa’s Perseverance Rover, helping with its hunt for signs of life.

The new phase will last for another 30 Martian days - or Sols - but the team said they’re hopeful it could be extended further.

“The technical performance has been fantastic and it is exceeding all our expectations,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity’s project manager.

“I can't tell you how excited we are about this new phase.”

Ingenuity’s flight on 19 April made history as the first powered flight on another planet.

The 1.8kg chopper lifted off in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere and hovered at a height of 2 metres for about 40 seconds before landing.

For its second and third flight, it flew further afield, rising to a height of 5 metres before speeding off laterally for 50 metres and then returning to its landing spot.

Nasa’s original plan was to then carry out two more flights, before grounding Ingenuity to bring the technology demonstration to a close.