"It did the impossible": NASA says the Martian helicopter, which a Ukrainian helped to create, is no longer operational
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter, which has made 72 flights to Mars in almost three years, has become part of human space history. The American space agency reported that during the last landing, it damaged one of its propellers and will never be able to take off again.
NASA released a statement confirming that the historic Ingenuity mission has officially ended. At the same time, it is safe to say that the Martian helicopter has done much more than anyone expected and proved the effectiveness of such technology for future missions to distant planets.
The agency said that it had received photos of the helicopter taken on January 18, 2024, after the 72nd flight, which clearly indicate that "one or more of the rotor blades were damaged during the landing."
This means that the helicopter is no longer able to fly. At the same time, NASA said that "the helicopter remains in an upright position and is in communication with ground controllers."
"The first-ever Mars helicopter will leave an indelible mark on the future of space exploration and inspire fleets of aircraft on Mars and other worlds for decades to come," said project manager Teddy Tsanetos.
As a reminder, during the 72nd flight, an unforeseen situation occurred that led to an unexpected landing of Ingenuity. At the same time, the helicopter lost contact with the Earth for two days.
Ingenuity, which was developed by a Ukrainian, landed on the red planet with the Perseverance rover in April 2021. Since this helicopter was only a test technology, no one expected it to achieve historic achievements.
According to the plan, the helicopter was supposed to make five flights in the Martian atmosphere within 30 days and then retire. Instead, the device fully justified its name, which means "ingenuity" in English, having worked on Mars for three years and making 72 flights. This is a fantastic result for a test technology that simply had to prove the viability of the development and the idea itself.
The total flight time over Mars was 2 hours and almost 9 minutes. During this time, the tiny Ingenuity covered a distance of more than 17.2 kilometers.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, saying goodbye to the Martian helicopter, said that its journey had "come to an end."
"This remarkable helicopter flew higher and farther than we could have imagined and helped NASA do what we do best: make the impossible possible," Nelson said.