NASA lost contact with its small helicopter called Ingenuity on Mars while it was making its 72nd flight, the space agency said, saying it was looking for a way to restore communications.
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The helicopter, which looks like a large drone, became the first motorized vehicle to fly on another planet in 2021. He arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover, which serves as a relay for data transmission between the helicopter and Earth.
Ingenuity reached an altitude of 12 meters during its flight on Thursday, NASA said in a statement released Friday evening.
But “during descent, communication between the helicopter and the rover ended earlier, before landing,” NASA wrote.
The teams responsible for the helicopter are “analyzing the available data and considering next steps to restore communications with the helicopter,” the American space agency added.
The flight was planned to “check the helicopter's systems after it landed earlier than planned on the previous flight,” she said.
Switched on for visual inspection.
NASA had temporarily lost contact with the helicopter in the past, particularly for a longer period of about two months last year, but this interruption was planned at the time.
Originally, the Ingenuity, which weighs just 1.8 kg, was only supposed to launch five times, but the mission exceeded all expectations.
In total, the helicopter covered around 17 kilometers and flew to a height of 24 meters.
Its longevity is remarkable, especially considering that it has to survive freezing nights on Mars and warms up thanks to solar panels that charge its batteries during the day.
He became the traveling companion of the Perseverance rover, whose mission is to search for traces of ancient life on Mars.