NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter's Mars Mission Over After Rotor Blade Damage
 Science/Medical
Sunday 28th, January 2024
Space
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter has concluded its groundbreaking mission on Mars after a remarkable journey that far exceeded expectations. The mini helicopter, which touched down on the Red Planet in February 2021, recently faced a setback as one of its rotor blades sustained damage during landing.

Ingenuity made history just two months into its mission by accomplishing the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. Despite being initially planned for a 30 day mission, the solar powered aircraft defied expectations by embarking on a total of 72 flights, covering an impressive distance of 11 miles.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced the conclusion of Ingenuity's mission on Thursday, citing an image from the helicopter's camera that revealed a broken rotor blade. The damage occurred during a recent landing, causing a temporary loss of contact with the Perseverance rover, which accompanied Ingenuity on its Martian adventure.

"We're investigating the possibility that the blade struck the ground," said Mr. Nelson, acknowledging the challenges faced during the final stages of the mission.

Ingenuity's tenure on Mars included surviving 1,000 Martian days, enduring the harsh winter season with temperatures dropping to -125C (-195F) near the planet's poles. The 1.8kg craft not only exceeded its expected mission duration but also played a crucial role in identifying locations for the Perseverance rover.

While Ingenuity's last flight marked the end of its operational life, NASA experts plan to conduct final tests on the helicopter and download any remaining images stored in its systems. The craft remains upright and in contact with flight controllers, although the Perseverance rover is currently too distant to capture Ingenuity's final resting place.

Lori Glaze, director of NASA's planetary science division, expressed mixed emotions, stating, "While we knew this day was inevitable, it doesn't make it any easier to announce the end of the mission. It's almost an understatement to say that it has surpassed expectations."
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