The end of Ingenuity's Mars mission

NASA's Ingenuity helicopter was the first powered aircraft under control on another world. But his time of exploration ended abruptly. What caused the end of Ingenuity's Mars mission?

«The helicopter remains upright and in communication with ground controllers. But one or more of its rotor blades were damaged during landing. It is no longer capable of flying,” explains NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in a statement.

The end of Ingenuity's Mars mission was due to a landing problem.
The end of Ingenuity's Mars mission was due to a landing problem.

Emergency landing

It operated from the Martian surface for almost three years. She made 72 flights and flew more than 14 times farther than planned. Ingenuity landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, docked to the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover. He first took off from the Martian surface on April 19.

It was to make a brief vertical flight on January 18 to determine its location after an emergency landing. It reached a maximum altitude of 12 meters and hovered for 4.5 seconds. It then descended at 1 meter per second.

Several days later images arrived revealing damage to the rotor blade. Their mission lasted almost 1,000 Martian days, more than 33 times longer than originally planned. Ingenuity could autonomously choose landing sites in treacherous terrain and deal with a dead sensor. Also clean after dust storms. She made three emergency landings and survived a frigid Martian winter. In total it traveled 17 kilometers during 128 minutes of flight.

The helicopter spent 3 years on Mars.
The helicopter spent 3 years on Mars.


It was designed to operate in the Martian spring. He was unable to power his heaters overnight during the coldest parts of winter. The flight computer would freeze and reboot periodically. These “blackouts” forced Ingenuity's winter operations to be redesigned in order to continue flying.

The end of Ingenuity's Mars mission will have several stages. Once flight operations are completed, the Ingenuity team will perform final tests on the helicopter's systems. It will download the remaining images and data to Ingenuity's onboard memory. The Perseverance rover is currently too far away to attempt to take images of the helicopter at its final airfield.

Click to rate this entry!
(Votes: 0 Average: 0)

Leave a Comment