Things are afoot on Mars as well as on the Earth.
During its 25th flight over the Martian surface, the Mars helicopter Ingenuity broke several of its own records.
The longest flight so far was the one that took place on April 8, 2022. It hit a speed of over six meters per second. Most people run at a slower pace.
The flights Ingenuity takes are record-breakers. Each journey is one more than the last, as the first and only self- powered flying machine on the planet.
Ingenuity has a camera that points straight down during flight and takes pictures very quickly.
After liftoff, the shadow of the helicopter looms large on the surface, then shrinks as Ingenuity reaches its altitude. It flies over a few sand ripples. The surface is boring before it lands again.
It was boring for an airborne view from a drone flying over another planet.
Ingenuity was designed to be a testing ground for engineering to see if flying on Mars is possible at all. The helicopter's blades are over a meter long tip to tip and spin at 2,500rpm to provide enough lift in the whisper-thin Martian air. The kit is only about 1.5 pounds in Martian gravity and the 1/3rd gravity makes it easy to carry.
It is an important part of the mission, flying ahead of Perseverance to scout out interesting things to see and study, and look for potential dangers.
The first flight of this flight took place in April of 2021. It's preparing for its 29th such flight. The original mission was to perform five flights, but it has exceeded that greatly, which has become a trademark of missions designed and built at JPL.
There was a time when Earth lost contact with Ingenuity. It took a while, but communication was restored, and it turned out that the mission clock was reset because the battery on the plane lost charge. The sun is getting lower, the days are shorter, and the temperatures are not as warm as they used to be, but Ingenuity still has solar panels on it to keep it powered up.
The electronics could be damaged by the extremely low temperatures at night. There is a heat on the ship but it can't keep it warm. This could shorten the life of thecopter. It is possible that it will survive the Earth year-long Martian winter.
This mission has been a huge success. It flew far more than anticipated. NASA and JPL make it look easy, despite the fact that getting landers on Mars was at best a 50% chance.
The thing is not. Mars is a bad place to be on machines. It is an unforgiving planet to study in situ. Huge teams of scientists and engineers give their all to explore, which is what has made the amazing successes we have seen.
Humans do a lot of machines. We get the wonder and awe when they are bold.