The lateral flight was a test for the helicopter’s autonomous navigation system, which completes the route according to information received beforehand.
“If Ingenuity flies too fast, the flight algorithm can’t track surface features,” NASA explained in a statement about the flight.
Ingenuity’s flights are challenging because of conditions vastly different from Earth’s—foremost among them a rarefied atmosphere that has less than one percent the density of our own.
This means that Ingenuity’s rotors, which span four feet, have to spin at 2,400 revolutions per minute to achieve lift—about five times more than a helicopter on Earth.
NASA announced it is now preparing for a fourth flight. Each flight is planned to be of increasing difficulty in order to push Ingenuity to its limits.
The Ingenuity experiment will end in one month in order to let Perseverance return to its main task: searching for signs of past microbial life on Mars.