NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Captures Incredible Picture of Mars

When NASA's Ingenuity was first built, it was expected to fly through the Martian skies around five times. Now two years in action, the Martian helicopter has completed its 51st flight on the planet by returning one of its most stellar pictures yet. Hovering 40 feet from the surface, Ingenuity shared an epic photo of Mars' rolling hills, even including NASA's Perseverance rover in the snapshot. Over the course of its latest flight, Ingenuity flew for 136.89 seconds, traveling 617 feet during the flight.

Earlier this month, the chopper set a new record for distance, reaching a new height of 59 feet from the Martian surface. That was during its 50th flight, where it traveled 1,057 feet overt the span of 145.7 seconds.

"Just as the Wright brothers continued their experiments well after that momentous day at Kitty Hawk in 1903, the Ingenuity team continues to pursue and learn from the flight operations of the first aircraft on another world," Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA, said in a statement after the flight.

How long is the Perseverance mission supposed to last?

After landing in Mars' Jezero Crater, Perseverance was expected to last around a year. Now exceeding that timeframe, it's estimated the rover has enough power to last for the next 12 years or so.

"Anniversaries are a time of reflection and celebration, and the Perseverance team is doing a lot of both," Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley said in a NASA press release earlier this year. "Perseverance has inspected and performed data collection on hundreds of intriguing geologic features, collected 15 rock cores, and created the first sample depot on another world. With the start of the next science campaign, known as 'Upper Fan,' on Feb. 15, we expect to be adding to that tally very soon."

"We deal with a lot of numbers," added Perseverance deputy project manager Steve Lee. "We collect them, evaluate them, compare them, and more times than we want to admit, bore our loved ones with them during a family dinner."

For additional space and cosmic stories, check out our ComicBook Invasion hub here.