NASA's Perseverance Mars rover had a ringside seat for the latest flight of its little exploration partner.
The agency's Ingenuity helicopter took to the Martian skies for the 54th time on Aug. 3, performing a simple up-and-down hop that lasted just 24 seconds.
Perseverance was nearby at the time, and it recorded the sortie using its powerful Mastcam-Z camera system. The resulting video captures the flight in amazing detail, showing Ingenuity rise, hover and spin for a spell before coming back to rest on the red dirt of Mars' Jezero Crater.
Ingenuity returned the photographic favor, by the way, capturing an image of Perseverance during the brief flight.
Perseverance and Ingenuity landed together inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero in February 2021. The rover is hunting for signs of past Mars life and collecting samples for future return to Earth. Ingenuity is aiding those quests by doing scouting work for the Perseverance team.
That wasn't the 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) chopper's original job; its primary mission was to show that aerial exploration is possible on Mars despite its thin atmosphere. Ingenuity aced that task with an initial five-flight campaign, then shifted to a more ambitious extended mission that now includes nearly 50 sorties.
Flight 54 was abnormally simple and short for Ingenuity, but there's a reason for that: The helicopter team wanted to make sure all was well with the chopper after Flight 53 came to a premature end. The latest hop went according to plan, and Ingenuity's handlers are confident it can keep flying for a while on Mars.
This wassn't the first time that Perseverance has recorded Ingenuity taking flight on the Red Planet. For example, the big rover captured video of the chopper in action on March 9, during its 47th Martian flight.