One of the fun aspects of exploring a new planet is that you can set a lot of new records, as is the case with the very first Mars-based helicopter, Ingenuity. Since its inaugural flight on April 19th of 2021, Ingenuity has flown 61 times, setting various records for distance traveled and other parameters. Although setting the first record is easy on account of anything being better than literally nothing, the real challenge lies in exceeding previously set records, as the team behind Ingenuity seeks to do again with flight 62 and a new speed record.
Targeting October 12th, the goal is to travel 268 meters (1.33 furlong) at a maximum altitude of 18 meters while hitting 10 meters per second (36 km/h), which would shatter the 8 m/s (28.8 km/h) set by flight 60. Although still quite a distance to the 240 m/s required to hit Mach 1 on Mars, the fact that this feat is being performed by a first-of-its-kind helicopter in the thin Martian atmosphere, using off-the-shelf components that were expected to last maybe a handful of flights, is nothing short of amazing.
(Thanks to [Mark Stevens] for the tip!)
(Top image: Fourth flight of Ingenuity (circled), captured by Perseverance rover. Source: NASA/JPL)