NASA Mars helicopter sends final message

NASA Mars helicopter sends final message
Credit: Belga

NASA’s mini helicopter on March has sent its last message to Earth and will now serve as a fixed unit collecting data from the surface of Mars, the space agency has confirmed.

The helicopter dubbed Ingenuity made history in 2021 as the first motorised device to fly on another planet, demonstrating that flight is possible in Mars' atmosphere which is just 1% as dense as Earth’s.

Weighing only 1.8kg, the helicopter, covered around 17km and reached a height of 24 metres in total. Its cumulative flight time exceeded two hours.

Ingenuity landed on Mars in February 2021 alongside the Perseverance rover, acting as an aerial scout to assist its wheeled partner in the search for signs of ancient microbial life.

Ingenuity remarkably managed to survive the freezing Mars nights, warming itself with solar panels that charged its batteries during daylight.

The helicopter was initially scheduled for only five flights. However, its excellent performance led to an extended mission, running until January 2024, involving a total of 72 deployments.

On Monday, NASA announced they are exploring methods to bring back rocks collected from Mars by Perseverance more swiftly and economically, following criticism of their extensive budget.

This news comes as China’s Tianwen-3 mission prepares for a Mars sample return, set to launch around 2030 according to state media.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.