Ingenuity Mission Ends
After three years on Mars, NASA's Ingenuity helicopter's mission has come to an end. After its last flight was on January 18, Ingenuity's rotor blades were damaged while landing — preventing it from flying again.
“The historic journey of Ingenuity, the first aircraft on another planet, has come to end,” says NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “That remarkable helicopter flew higher and farther than we ever imagined and helped NASA do what we do best — make the impossible, possible. Through missions like Ingenuity, NASA is paving the way for future flight in our solar system and smarter, safer human exploration to Mars and beyond.”
NASA shares some of Ingenuity's triumphs and challenges:
Over an extended mission that lasted for almost 1,000 Martian days, more than 33 times longer than originally planned, Ingenuity was upgraded with the ability to autonomously choose landing sites in treacherous terrain, dealt with a dead sensor, cleaned itself after dust storms, operated from 48 different airfields, performed three emergency landings, and survived a frigid Martian winter.
Designed to operate in spring, Ingenuity was unable to power its heaters throughout the night during the coldest parts of winter, resulting in the flight computer periodically freezing and resetting. These power “brownouts” required the team to redesign Ingenuity’s winter operations in order to keep flying.
With flight operations now concluded, the Ingenuity team will perform final tests on helicopter systems and download the remaining imagery and data in Ingenuity’s onboard memory. The Perseverance rover is currently too far away to attempt to image the helicopter at its final airfield.
“It’s humbling Ingenuity not only carries onboard a swatch from the original Wright Flyer, but also this helicopter followed in its footsteps and proved flight is possible on another world,” says Ingenuity’s project manager, Teddy Tzanetos of NASA JPL. “The Mars helicopter would have never flown once, much less 72 times, if it were not for the passion and dedication of the Ingenuity and Perseverance teams. History’s first Mars 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.”
You can watch a video from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and learn more about Ingenuity at https://www.nasa.gov/news-release/after-three-years-on-mars-nasas-ingenuity-helicopter-mission-ends/.
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