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Ingenuity Copter’s Perseverance Captures Rare Footage

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s 13th flight, captured on video by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on Sept. 4, provides the most thorough look yet at the rotorcraft in action. The 160.5-second Flight 13 stands out as one of Ingenuity most challenging flights.

It is slated to take place no earlier than Saturday, Nov. 20. It entailed flying through various terrain within the “Sétah” geological formation and obtaining multiple photographs of an outcrop for the rover team. The photos, taken from a height of 26 feet (8 meters), add to those gathered during Flight 12 and provide crucial information to Perseverance scientists and rover drivers.

One video clip of Flight 13 captured by the rover’s two-camera Mastcam-Z shows the majority of the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft’s flight profile. The other shows a closeup of the helicopter’s takeoff and landing, which was captured as part of a science observation to measure the dust plumes it produces. We get a fantastic closeup of launch and landing through Mastcam-‘right Z’s eye’ even from 300 meters [328 yards].

While the helicopter is only a speck in the panoramic perspective taken through the ‘left eye,’ it offers viewers a sense of the scale of the area that Ingenuity is investigating. Ingenuity whips up a little puff of dust upon takeoff, which the right camera, or “eye,” captures traveling to the right of the helicopter throughout the ascent. After climbing to its projected maximum height of 26 feet (8 meters), the chopper executes a slight rotation to line up its color camera for scouting. The Ingenuity then flips over, allowing the propulsion of the rotors to propel it horizontally through the thin Martian air before disappearing offscreen.

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