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Ingenuity’s Final Image Shows Why It Will Never Fly Again

Yeah, that would do it.

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Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

author

Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

Alfredo (he/him) has a PhD in Astrophysics on galaxy evolution and a Master's in Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces.

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

Edited by Katy Evans
author

Katy Evans

Managing Editor

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

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An image showing the red sand of amrs and the roughly rectangular shadow of the rotor blade. The end is clearly broken

The shadow of the broken rotor.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter concluded its 72nd flight with a rough emergency landing, losing contact with the rover Perseverance when it was still about 3 meters (10 feet) from the ground. One communication was established, the American space agency announced that they had seen images that confirmed that after almost 1,000 days of service, Ingenuity had taken its final flight and the mission was over. The image has now been shared and yeah, it's not good.

The little helicopter cannot take selfies like a rover and Perseverance is currently too far away to snap a photo. However, the team used sunlight to inspect its rotors and spotted the issue that had occurred in its shadow. The rotor blade was damaged. The 72nd flight on January 18 where it hovered to establish position was Ingenuity’s fatal one.

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NASA also released an incredible new photo of rippling sand dunes taken by the helicopter from about 12 meters (39 feet) in the air back in December, on its 70th flight. The image shows the widest swath of sandy terrain the helicopter had flown over yet. 

Ingenuity captured this view of sand ripples during its 70th flight, on December 22, 2023, at 12 meters (39 feet) above the surface.
Ingenuity captured this view of sand ripples during its 70th flight, on December 22, 2023, at 12 meters (39 feet) above the surface.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


While it is sad when a mission ends, let’s stress just how extraordinary Ingenuity was. It was the first flying vehicle on another world. It was also just a prototype, designed to test five planned flights over 30 days. Instead, it worked so well that it became a science partner for Perseverance, providing a bird's eye view of the terrain ahead for the rover.

In total, the 'little helicopter that could' flew for over two hours, traveling for more than 17 kilometers (11 miles). The highest height it reached was 24 meters (79 feet), five times more than expected in planning. It was truly a pathfinder and now more flying vehicles are being designed for Mars and beyond.  


ARTICLE POSTED IN

spaceSpace and Physics
  • tag
  • nasa,

  • Mars,

  • Perseverance,

  • Ingenuity

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