NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has ended its mission at the Red Planet after surpassing expectations and making dozens more flights than planned.
While the helicopter remains upright and in communication with ground controllers, imagery of its January 18 flight sent to Earth indicates one or more of its rotor blades sustained damage during landing, and it is no longer capable of flight.
Originally designed as a technology demonstration to perform up to five experimental test flights over 30 days, the first aircraft on another world operated from the Martian surface for almost three years, performed 72 flights, and flew more than 14 times farther than planned while logging more than two hours of total flight time.
“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.”
Ingenuity landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover and first lifted off the Martian surface on April 19, proving that powered, controlled flight on Mars was possible.
After notching another four flights, it embarked on a new mission as an operations demonstration, serving as an aerial scout for Perseverance scientists and rover drivers.
In 2023, the helicopter executed two successful flight tests that further expanded the team’s knowledge of its aerodynamic limits.
“At NASA JPL, innovation is at the heart of what we do,” said Leshin. “Ingenuity is an exemplar of the way we push the boundaries of what’s possible every day. I’m incredibly proud of our team behind this historic technological achievement and eager to see what they’ll invent next.”
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