NASA "lost" its Martian helicopter for two days and was already preparing for the worst, but a miracle happened

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
The Perseverance rover could not pick up a signal from Ingenuity for two days. Source: NASA/TechCrunch/collage by OBOZ.UA

For the American space agency NASA, 2024 almost went wrong from the very first month. First, problems prevented the Peregrine One (built by a private company with NASA money) from landing on the Moon, and now the Ingenuity Martian helicopter almost said "goodbye" to its developers... but fortunately, everything went well.

The agency announced the restoration of the signal on its page on the X social network (formerly known as Twitter). This is not the first time the agency has lost contact with a helicopter that has long since overfulfilled its mission.

For a long two days, NASA's Mars explorers on Earth believed they had most likely lost the Ingenuity Mars helicopter forever.

Communication was lost on Saturday during a routine 72nd flight. On that day, Ingenuity reported that it had climbed to an altitude of 12 meters and had begun its descent when suddenly, communication was completely lost.

The helicopter is known to keep in touch with Earth via the Perseverance rover. Previously, there have been situations where an obstacle (a hill or something similar) has appeared between the two, and the connection between the robots has been lost. So the first thought of the researchers was that something similar had happened. However, an analysis of the situation showed that the helicopter took off and landed in the same place, so the obstacle could not have appeared out of nowhere.

For two days, the fate of the vehicle remained unknown, but eventually, communication was restored. NASA reported "good news," noting that thanks to instructions sent to the rover, communication with the helicopter was restored.

NASA did not specify what exactly happened and why the connection was lost. Probably because the situation is still unclear. The agency said in a statement that "the team is studying new data to better understand the unexpected loss of communication."

Although Earth-based researchers certainly don't want to say goodbye to Ingenuity even after its 72nd flight, it's worth noting that it has already done much more than expected. This helicopter is actually a prototype of a model that NASA plans to produce in the future. So when it was sent to the red planet in February 2021, it was expected to make only five test flights to demonstrate the revolutionary technology in action.

Instead, the helicopter has already made 72 flights in the Mars atmosphere, lasting 128 minutes. During this time, it traveled a whopping 17.7 km above the planet.

It is worth adding that Ingenuity has repeatedly made researchers nervous. In particular, in June, they failed to establish communication with it for 63 days.

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