“The Ingenuity helicopter from NASA has reached the end of its flight mission on Mars, surpassing all expectations.”
The final flight of NASA’s small Mars helicopter has been completed.
The agency responsible for space exploration declared on Thursday that the helicopter named Ingenuity, weighing 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), is no longer able to fly due to damage to its rotor blades. Despite remaining upright and in communication with flight controllers, officials stated that the mission, which cost $85 million (£67 million), has come to an end.
Initially planned as a brief technological demonstration, Ingenuity completed a total of 72 flights during its three-year stay on Mars. It amassed over two hours of flight time and covered a distance of 11 miles (18km).
According to Nasa, the distance traveled was more than 14 times greater than originally intended. The aircraft reached a maximum altitude of 79ft (24 metres) and achieved speeds of up to 22.4mph (36km/h).
Nasa’s Lori Glaze expressed that announcing the end of the mission, although expected, was still difficult. She also noted that the mission has far exceeded expectations.
In 2021, Ingenuity joined Nasa’s Perseverance rover on its journey to Mars. Acting as a scout, it demonstrated that flying with power is achievable in the low-density atmosphere of the planet.
Pictures transmitted recently from its final voyage revealed that at least one of its propeller blades sustained harm during the landing and could have made contact with the ground. The agency has confirmed that the blades are now inoperable.
Last week, the helicopter reached a height of 40ft during its last flight. It hovered briefly before descending, but during this time, it unexpectedly lost contact with the nearby rover which acted as its communication link. This occurred when the helicopter was just 3ft above the ground. After communication was reestablished, it was discovered that there was damage. The cause of the communication failure is currently being investigated.
In 2022, Nasa was inspired by Ingenuity’s achievements and decided to include two small helicopters in an upcoming Mars expedition.