Liftoff on Mars! Perseverance rover captures amazing video of Ingenuity helicopter flight

A Mars drone busted out some midair moves on the Red Planet during its latest flight.

Footage of Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter drone flying alongside the Perseverance rover mission, shows the mini-chopper ascending into the Martian hills behind it.

The 47th flight of Ingenuity on March 9 was expected to scout out science targets to the southwest ahead of bringing Perseverance in the direction to seek out evidence of ancient life on Mars, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's flight briefing.

Related: How NASA will launch Mars samples off the Red Planet

The Ingenuity helicopter on Mars during its 47th flight on March 9, 2023 via a camera on the Perseverance rover. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The flight covered 1,444 feet (440 meters) of flight distance and brought Ingenuity to a new pit stop, nicknamed Airfield Iota in the flight log, after several previous flights between existing airfields. Ingenuity's top speed hit a typical 11.9 mph (5.3 meters per second), and the drone remains in good health as it shoots for Flight 50 in a few weeks.

Ingenuity and Perseverance also worked together to send home more imagery of the flight than usual, using satellites in orbit around the Red Planet and NASA's Deep Space Network, a busy set of antennas on Earth keeping track of deep-space missions.

Footage taken on Ingenuity's downward-looking black-and-white navigation camera shows Martian dunes whipping by underneath as the drone flew as high as 39 feet (12 meters), a typical altitude for these flights. Perseverance captured Ingenuity's soaring from afar using the rover's Mast-Z long-range camera.

Ridged dunes fly underneath Ingenuity during its 47th Mars flight on March 9, 2023. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Ingenuity is not only scouting for Perseverance, but also serving as a testbed ahead of NASA's and the European Space Agency's sample return mission. Should Percy be unable to ferry the samples it picked up to a waiting spacecraft in 2033 or so, two backup helicopters will pick up twin lightsaber-shaped sample tubes the rover has been caching on the surface

Perseverance and Ingenuity are together working on an eight-month campaign, nicknamed "Delta Top," exploring a region that may have had a life-friendly river delta and lake billions of years ago.

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon:

  • Bruce Frank
    Does Perseverance have sound reception capability? I m curious if the sound of the drone can be heard. I know with the low density atmosphere atmosphere the sound would not travel very far. But, if there is sound reception, I'd love to hear it!
  • billslugg
    You can hear it here. You can heat the wind noise and then a humming sound when Ingenuity takes off on its fourth flight.
    Listen to NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Flying Over Mars (