NASA announced on Thursday the end of the mission of its small helicopter on Mars called Ingenuity after it damaged at least one of its rotor blades during its 72nd and final flight.
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“What Ingenuity has accomplished goes far beyond what we thought possible,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said in a video. The helicopter “paved the way for future flights in our solar system.”
In 2021, Ingenuity became the first powered device to fly on another planet.
On its 72nd flight last week, the helicopter reached a height of 12 meters, but communications abruptly stopped shortly before landing.
It was eventually restored, but a few days later NASA teams discovered damage to a rotor blade.
“We are looking into the possibility that the blade may have hit the ground,” Bill Nelson said.
The helicopter is now “no longer airworthy,” NASA confirmed in a press release, saying the causes of the communications disruption were still being investigated.
Ingenuity was originally intended for only five launches, but the mission exceeded all expectations.
In total, the helicopter covered around 17 kilometers and reached a height of 24 meters.
He arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover, whose mission is to find traces of ancient microbial life on Mars.
This allowed him to take on the role of an aerial reconnaissance officer to help his wheeled companion.
Its longevity is remarkable, especially considering that it has had to endure freezing nights on Mars and warms itself thanks to solar panels that charge its batteries during the day.