NASA's Perseverance rover has captured an image of the Ingenuity helicopter's final resting place, after it stopped functioning late last month.
Ingenuity was an impressive little robot, becoming the first to make a powered, controlled flight on a planet other than Earth in April 2021. That's no easy feat, given the wildly different conditions on Mars.
"The Red Planet has a significantly lower gravity – one-third that of Earth’s – and an extremely thin atmosphere with only 1% the pressure at the surface compared to our planet," NASA explained in a press release when Ingenuity made its first flight. "This means there are relatively few air molecules with which Ingenuity’s two 4-foot-wide (1.2-meter-wide) rotor blades can interact to achieve flight."
The helicopter – really a prototype – was only planned to make five flights over 30 days, but ended up making 72 flights over 1,000. It worked so well that NASA began using it to gain a bird's eye view of Mars and spot interesting areas for Perseverance to take a closer look at.
Unfortunately, on the 72nd flight Ingenuity made an emergency landing, losing contact with Perseverance. When contact was re-established, photos from the helicopter showed that a rotor had been badly damaged, and Ingenuity would not fly again.
On February 4, NASA's Mars Perseverance rover photographed its partner on top of a sand dune in the Jezero Crater. RIP little buddy.