After 72 flights and three years, NASA has retired Ingenuity, the Mars helicopter that became the first aircraft to operate outside Earth's atmosphere.
During its final flight on January 18, the drone lost contact with its counterpart, the Perseverance rover. Communications were resumed two days later.
Unfortunately, the exercise, which was supposed to be a “quick pop-up vertical flight to check the helicopter’s systems,” proved fatal.
“New images confirm that the #MarsHelicopter sustained rotor damage during Flight 72. Our helicopter made its final flight,” open NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Thursday.
NASA goes further Hinge The helicopter remains upright and in contact with ground controllers but is now parked on the ground.
A JPL image of the rotor blade shadow indicates that part of the blade has been broken or bent, most likely the former given the carbon fiber base material.
“We are teary-eyed, but we are so happy that it exceeded expectations,” JPL He said.
After flight operations are completed, the Ingenuity team will conduct final tests on the helicopter's systems and download the remaining images and data into the helicopter's onboard memory, NASA said.
Ingenuity arrived at Mars mounted on the underside of the Perseverance rover in February 2021.
It was originally designed as a technology demonstration and was expected to perform up to five experimental test flights over 30 days. Instead, the helicopter continued to operate for about three years, making 72 flights and two hours of total flight time.
Its function moved from demonstrating the possibility of powered, controlled flight on Mars to demonstrating operations, and it later served as aerial reconnaissance for Perseverance scientists and rover drivers.
The Ingenuity program has managed to survive: it was upgraded to autonomously choose landing sites on the Martian terrain, and managed operations using… dead sensor, He literally knew how soil The plane self-launched, endured extreme temperatures and three emergency landings.
Lessons learned from the Mars helicopter will continue.
Teddy Tzanitos, Ingenuity's project manager, praised the drone because it “proved that flying is possible in another world.”
“History’s first Martian helicopter will leave behind an indelible mark on the future of space exploration and will inspire fleets of aircraft on Mars – and other worlds – for decades to come,” Tzanitos said. ®
“Devoted student. Bacon advocate. Beer scholar. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot. Typical coffee enthusiast.”