It's a sad day in the science community as researchers and engineers worldwide salute NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity as the space agency has announced the helicopter's mission has ended.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson has announced that Ingenuity's efforts on the surface of the Red Planet have come to an end after the small helicopter sustained damage to at least one or more of its rotor blades during the landing of its last flight. Ingenuity landed in the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet in February 2018 with NASA's Perseverance rover.
The primary mission of the helicopter was to demonstrate that flight was capable on another planet, and once that was achieved, Ingenuity essentially turned into a reconnaissance device for NASA as it would fly ahead of Perseverance, capturing the terrain and surrounding area with its onboard cameras.
With the imagery, NASA was able to map out a path of least resistance for Perseverance while also identifying any upcoming areas that are worth Perseverance taking a closer look at. In total, Ingenuity performed 72 flights, with 14 of those flights flying further than NASA anticipated. In total, Ingenuity flew for more than 2 hours, and now it will fly no more. Goodnight, sweet prince; your efforts on the Red Planet will go down in history as they proved that controlled flight on Mars was possible.
"The historic journey of Ingenuity, the first aircraft on another planet, has come to end," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "That remarkable helicopter flew higher and farther than we ever imagined and helped NASA do what we do best - make the impossible, possible. Through missions like Ingenuity, NASA is paving the way for future flight in our solar system and smarter, safer human exploration to Mars and beyond."
"It's humbling Ingenuity not only carries onboard a swatch from the original Wright Flyer, but also this helicopter followed in its footsteps and proved flight is possible on another world," said Ingenuity's project manager, Teddy Tzanetos of NASA JPL.
"The Mars helicopter would have never flown once, much less 72 times, if it were not for the passion and dedication of the Ingenuity and Perseverance teams. History's first Mars helicopter will leave behind an indelible mark on the future of space exploration and will inspire fleets of aircraft on Mars - and other worlds - for decades to come."